Agile working is a buzzwords that’s become very popular in recent years, yet really all it means is finding non-traditional work methods to elevate your thinking and the way you do business. You’ve likely heard of agile working before, and may have taken steps to instigate agile practices into your company.
But are you really agile, or just limping along using outdated work formats?
The days of suffering under the 9 to 5 grind, employees chained to desks and stifled by processes, procedures, and unproductive habits are dying out. Instead, the professional world is waking to the fact that being physically present in an office for eight hours a day doesn’t always ensure maximum productivity.
Employers are (slowly) embracing the idea that more effective work can happen outside the traditional constraints of the time and place surrounding an office. Flexible hours coupled with mobile and remote working have been on the rise for years. The evolution of Cloud computing, superfast broadband, mobile technology and devices capable of doing everything a desktop can on-the-go have only sped this along.
Agile working essentially takes this idea to the next level.
It’s not just about hot desking, home working, job sharing and flexitime.
Instead, it’s a liberation movement freeing employees and employers from traditional ideas about work, opening up new worlds of possibility through the ability to work any time, anywhere, and any way you choose.
In the modern world, work is no longer a location you visit every day, but an activity (and hopefully a vocation) that you do in an agile manner best suited to you.
But what exactly is agile working, and how can it drive your business to further success?
The Fundamentals Of Agile Working…
Often confused with Flexible Working – which generally consists of allowing flexible hours and working from home – being agile really digs deeper where pliability is concerned. It’s about speed and adaptability, giving workers maximum flexibility and minimum constraints to produce optimum results.
It offers high value for employers and workers, and can result in a more performance-based, responsive and effective business.
At its core, agile working is a switch in focus from input to results.
It’s not about how many hours you put in, but the results you get out.
How agile working is implemented can vary from business to business, and sector to sector. There’s no one-size-fits-all methodology.
It can mean moving from a sequential pattern of work (where delivery of your product or services passes between teams as it progresses), to a more unified approach that sees all teams work alongside each other at all stages.
Alternatively, it might mean breaking the attachment to a physical desk and embracing the freedom of the #WorkFromWherever mentality.
When you boil it down, being agile isn’t about doing things any one way. In fact, it’s precisely the opposite. It’s opening yourself up to the possibilities of doing things in any and every way, finding what works for you, your business, and your team (both as a collective and as individuals).
It’s a mindset; an attitude that is built into a business’ culture.
Once you master the agile mindset, you’ll be free to implement whatever agile tactics work for you.
Employee Benefits Of Agile Working…
The modern working world can be a tough place to navigate. Competition for jobs is sky high. Professionals can find themselves tied in to lengthy commutes and unrealistic workloads. Add to this the rise of mobile technology making it next to impossible to switch off, and family time, relaxation, and the work/life balance are being sacrificed.
Here’s the truth: we’re all burning out.
This isn’t a shocking revelation – it’s been building for years. And for years we’ve been searching for the answer to that eternal question: how do we work smarter, not harder?
Employees are increasingly demanding flexibility to help them find that elusive balance, and this is where agile working comes into play.
It goes far beyond offering flexible work hours, and gives people the ability to ditch a stressful commute and get straight down to work every day, or hire the best people for the job at hand even if it means your team is split across different cities, countries, or even continents.
WordPress is the perfect example of a business fully embracing the agile mentality, with 100% of their workforce working remotely.
The Benefits For Employers…
If you’re an employer, it can feel like the agile mindset is skewed towards employees, yet giving them this freedom is the key to ensuring the success of your business. Freed from the daily commute, the daily grind, the constraints of fixed points and times for work, the pressure is released and productivity can soar.
Agile working creates the absolutely crucial ingredient all businesses need to truly grow and succeed: empowerment.
You’re placing your trust in your employees, and this will not only make them feel valued, but empower them to believe they’re capable of doing exceptional work.
Afterall, you must believe this is the case, if you’re willing to leave them to their own devices.
Empowered employees are more creative, more motivated and more productive. Empowerment leaves room for innovation – the lifeblood of future business success. Employees are happier in their work, meaning they work harder and act as better advocates for your business, enhancing customer service.
It also opens up your recruitment pool, as you’re no longer limited by geography and the distance people are willing to commute. Sometimes the best candidates are those that hit their peak of productivity outside of traditional hours, especially in the creative industries.
Offering agile working makes you a competitive employer, giving you the edge over your competitors when it comes t o landing top talent, while reducing overheads by eliminating the need for a large permanent office space.
It can feel unnerving for managers and business owners to loosen control over employees. But by doing so, they can unlock a whole new level of productivity.
How To Become An Agile Employer…
Becoming a truly agile business takes more than just offering flexible hours or home working. You’ll need to shake up your way of thinking, your IT systems, your office space and your entire company culture.
It will need to be embedded across your organisation, into your business model and goals. This doesn’t happen overnight, but a few small steps can set you on the right path.
Rethinking Your Office Space…
Rethinking your office space can have a big impact on an agile mindset for businesses and employees. Move away from traditional models of a desk, computer and phone per worker. Stop expecting your team to sit in one place all day, and instead provide break out areas, quiet areas for reflection, and large collaborative workspaces.
Unchaining your employees from their desks has a huge impact on their attitude and mentality, opening the way for creativity and out-of-the-box thinking.
Embracing The Right Tech…
Having the right technology in place is vital if you are to make a success of agile working. You’ll need to invest in an IT infrastructure that supports employees working remotely. For most, this will largely involve Cloud computing and equipping workers with tablets and mobiles. But consider truly innovative tech solutions, and the positibilites that are constantly opening up as a result of artificial intelligence, machine learning, the internet of things, and other cutting edge technologies.
Get Radical In Your Processes…
If your business is to become truly agile, you may have to radically rethink the way you do things. This could include simplifying processes using Lean principles. It could also mean analysing departmental interdependencies to understand the implications of agile working and how it will affect communication.
Empowering Your Leadership…
Embedding a fundamental change across an organisation is a huge task, and you’ll need your leaders on board. Empowering your leadership team and educating them on what you are trying to achieve with agile working to ensure they’ve fully bought into the process is a great place to start.
Time To Get Agile?
When effectively implemented agile working can free your workers from a desk and open their minds to new thinking and innovation. If you want to learn more embedding change in your company culture and empowering your employees, sign up below for my free video series, The CPR Method, and discover how it can transform your business…