Top Ten Tips...How To Embrace Agile Working
Due to Covid-19, our workplaces may feel like unfamiliar territories with more of our employees working from home than ever before.
Flexibility has been key to making home working feasible and more credence is now being given to the benefits of agile working. In a nutshell, the definition of agile working is based on the concept that "work is an activity we do, rather than a place we go” - it’s so much more than flexible working.
Sometimes called 'Martini' working (after the famous 1970s advert and the strapline “anytime, anyplace, anywhere”), agile working is about providing a working environment which allows for more choice and flexibility for your employees.
If you’re interested in developing the concept of agile working in your company, here are our Top Ten Tips on how to embrace it:
1. Think about Location, Location, Location!
The key to agile working is accepting that your employees can do the same job from different locations. This could be from the office as usual, from home, a coffee shop, library or from the garden. It’s the complete opposite of owning desk space or working 9-5 and many of your businesses will have shown you can do this successfully during lockdown.
2. Provide the right technology
Working remotely means your employees need reliable equipment and IT to do their jobs off-site. This may take a serious investment for some employers to kit everyone out with laptops and mobile phones but if you do it right, it will be a positive asset for the future of your business. You need your basic online systems to be accessible while remaining secure. It’s best to test this out first with a few employees. If problems arise, maybe consider employing additional IT support to ensure any new ways of working are introduced more smoothly.
3. Consider how to use your workspace effectively
Introducing agile working means you can be more flexible with your office space and you should encourage your staff to use it as and when it’s appropriate. For example, you could have touchdown desks so staff can hot desk or private booths for meetings, break-out areas for brainstorming sessions or audio-visual rooms for Zoom catch-ups. The benefits of providing an agile space is that different people from various departments can work alongside each other, promoting cohesion amongst your workforce.
4. Review your policies
If agile working is completely new to your workforce, ensure your policies and procedures are updated so that everyone knows what their responsibilities are and how it should work. You need to reinforce what’s expected of employees while they are working in different locations or using their work time in different ways. For example, you will need to emphasise the need for confidentiality and good governance when working away from the office, what times employees are expected to log and maybe how any work will be reviewed.
5. Offer agile working as an incentive
Attracting the best candidates during any recruitment process is important. Job hunters looking for a non-traditional company with a diverse and forward thinking working environment with added incentives such as agile working need to know that it’s available to them from the offset. It will set you apart from other companies.
6. Consider the benefits for your business
Agile working will look different for every business and each employer will find their own way of using it to their advantage. It’s worth starting from scratch, engaging with your workforce about what they want and putting a business case together for consideration by your board or directors. The benefits could include increased productivity, reduced building costs, a reduction in travel time, better staff morale, and employees using their time more productively.
7. Trial it first!
If you are unsure about implementing agile working across your whole business, then launch a pilot project first. You should consider whether agile working might benefit one department or be more suitable to a particular role within your business. You’ll need to decide how long your pilot will last for, how many employees it will include and how you will evaluate it. A staged roll-out will also help you to continue to learn and evaluate as you go along to ensure your policies and procedures allow your business to become more agile in the best way possible.
8. Lead by example
As senior leaders, you need to be involved in making the decisions about how agile working will help develop your business and benefit your workforce. You also need to lead by example and put your new way of working to the test. It might seem alien working from a coffee shop, on the train or from your back garden (particularly if your brand is very corporate) but by piloting it yourself you can recommend the necessary adjustments. Why not write a regular blog about it and encourage your colleagues to do the same?
9. Think about how to boost creativity
If your agile working policy is working you will hopefully also see an increase in productivity and creativity. With your staff liberated from their office space and more able to work at times which suit them, you should benefit from more entrepreneurial thinking. Consider how you will encourage and celebrate this amongst your employees.
10. Consider how you will evaluate success
The results of working more agile should be improved business performance. You need to consider how you will evaluate whether this is working or not. Agile working is about promoting self-organisation and training your teams to work autonomously. The key is to look at how they are performing individually but also as a team. Think about what digital software you might need to enable you to evaluate productivity or whether staff surveys are needed to engage with your workforce.
Will you be introducing agile working into your business?
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