Agile working has been considered the new frontier of productivity for quite a while now, but despite this, some businesses have been slow on the uptake. It’s not a huge surprise – even though we regularly hear reports of how popular and positive flexible working styles can be, there is still a school of thought that tradition and rigidity should reign supreme.
These businesses may have their reasons for being cautious about agility in the workplace, but one thing is for sure – we’re in the age of agile working right now, and as the popularity of the practice continues to rise, those who don’t adapt may be left behind.
An Agile Business is: An organisation whose business processes integrated end-to-end across the company, and with key partners, suppliers, and customers; responding with flexibility and speed to any customer demand, market opportunity, or external threat. - Creating Agile Organisations Whitepaper
Agile working is an umbrella which contains many different flexible working styles: remote working (or working from home), hot desking, cross-functioning teams and differing workspaces can all be considered as a way of bringing agility to the workplace. The most important component of agile working is empowering employees to work in a way that suits them, rather than dictating how they must work.
The Modern Workplace Report 2018 found that just 7% of organisations surveyed offer no type of agile or flexible working at all.
A Global Perspective
Some countries seem to be quicker on the uptake than others – the US and Australia have higher rates of flexible working, whereas in the UK, 37% of respondents said that their staff work flexibly at least some of the time. Perhaps the varying rates of agile working globally can be explained by varying attitudes to presenteeism and the traditional 9-5 working pattern.
This is expected to change as younger generations enter the workforce, and gain more responsibility – in fact, France was one of the least flexible countries surveyed, however, 64% of French business leaders believed that agile working will increase by a little or a lot in the future.
"People don’t want freedom from work, but just freedom within work" - Lewis Mumford, Philosopher
The most important feature of true agility in the workplace is the fact that employees are given the power. Considering this, business leaders should note the increasing importance of gathering feedback and creating a dialogue with their employees.
Recognising the culture of a workplace is key to increasing agility, and to encouraging collaboration between colleagues.