The word agile can be used to describe a space or methodology. In the context of different organisations, the definition of the word differs. So what exactly is agile and why is it becoming important for organisations to apply it?
“The goals of organisations in adopting agile work are to create a more responsive, efficient and effective organisation, which improves business performance and increases customer satisfaction. By empowering their employees to work how, where and when they choose, there is evidence that they increase their productivity and provide service improvements by working in a way that suits them best.” – John Eary
As Eary outlines, agile working offers benefits for both employees and employers. But this isn’t just about making people’s professional and personal lives more pleasant.
The Employers Network for Equality & Inclusion (ENEI) states in its guide to agile working, “Where employees are given the autonomy and empowerment to choose where and when they work, as long as their job can be done, a culture is created that removes the artificial measures of success, such as time and attendance, and focuses on results and performance.”
However, as the ENEI points out, “while not every position is suited to complete flexibility, nearly all jobs can integrate flexibility in one of four categories: time, location, role or source (who does the work — work-sharing, contracts, freelance, etc.).
Benefits of agile working – for employees
Improved work-life balance
Basically, this refers to the workers having more control over how they spend their time. Technology plays a big role in making this possible. The tools provide individuals with the opportunity to access their work from wherever they are, providing them with the authority to create a work schedule according to their social and personal priorities and activities.
Unlike traditional work environments, agile working provides workers with the perks of determining how and where they work. In the traditional space, these decisions are made by executives and senior positions. Self-determination leads to employees having ownership and a say over their way of working which breaks down hierarchy, authority and power, making the workplace a space that recognises and respects workers’ voices.
Increased job satisfaction and personal productivity
Having equal power spread across the organisation, and the say of how, where and when one works leads to motivation. It allows workers to understand when they’re most productive, and allows them to minimise distractions and use their skills as best as they can.
Benefits of agile working – for businesses
A flexible workforce means a reduction of expenses for office space and equipment. In the case of organisations that rely on remote working, this also means the choice to hire from areas where salaries are lower for equally talented candidates.
Global Workplace Analytics reports that the average business would save $11,000 per person per year if staff with remote-compatible jobs worked from home just half the time. Furthermore, a poll of 1,500 technology professionals revealed that 37% would take a pay cut of 10% if they could work from home.
Increased ability to attract and retain high-quality talent
The demand for flexible work is on the rise. Interest in flexible working increased by more than 40% in 12 countries across the world (Australia marking the highest increase from 2013 – 2015). Many qualified potential employees are looking for flexibility – companies who don’t offer it may be missing out on great talent.
Providing flexibility for employees can also cause a boost in retention rates. Employees who need to take time out of the office or travel for personal reasons do not need to move jobs or terminate their contract. Business carries on as usual from a different location.
So, what’s next?
There is no one size fits all, however, companies agree that there must be a change to how we work today. The evolution of work we’re going through calls for change leaders to get together to share and discuss their challenges, lessons learned and practical solutions.
The points mentioned above were discussed and debated throughout my research when developing the agenda of the Reshaping the Workplace Conference. Join us in the conversation about different agile models, tools to measure the impact of space and what to expect next in a rapidly changing environment.