What is Agile Working & What Are the Benefits?
Agile working is among several new ways of working, although today it could hardly be called new anymore. It has been said that agile working could be described as bringing technology, processes, connectivity and people together at an appropriate time and in an appropriate place, without borders, in order to achieve a task. In other words it takes flexible working times one step further.
Where flexible hours allows employees to choose which hours they work provided they complete a certain amount per week, agile working also allows the flexibility in hours but differs in so far as it also allows flexibility in where the employee works, providing it is somewhere where they can be correctly productive. The idea of agile working is to move the conception of success from measures in time and performance to a more realistic concept based on results.
BENEFITS OF AGILE WORKING
The benefits of agile working can be broken down into two parts; benefits to employers and benefits to employees.
BENEFITS OF AGILE WORKING FOR EMPLOYERS
- Increased productivity
- A reduced workspace
- Reduction in properties and their costs
- Reduction in parking spaces
- Longer business hours
- Ability to better meet client expectations
- Fewer losses in productivity due to weather, security and travel problems
- Reduced absenteeism
BENEFITS OF AGILE WORKING FOR EMPLOYEES
- Reduced or more convenient travel times
- Better productivity due to less distractions and better focus
- Better balance between work and relaxation
- Less stress and better overall wellbeing
SMART WORKING & CARBON FOOTPRINTS
Agile working has been referred to as smart working as it combines elements of flexible hours and working from home concepts to afford employees better moral leading to higher productivity. The agile working model can also lead a business into producing a smaller carbon footprint and employees can also lower theirs due to not having to use as much fuel getting to work.
COMPANIES THAT USE AGILE WORKING
Since BT rolled out their Workstyle 2000 programme which encompassed flexible hours they have reported a drop in absenteeism of 63% among employees working flexible hours. They have also reported that by comparing productivity of flexible workers with that of other workers, the flexible workers achieve 20% more productivity. On average BT reported that their agile workers travelled, on average, 178 miles less per week, combining to mean less than 150,000,000 miles per year resulting in 12 million less liters of fuel being bought and a saving of 54,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions.
PwC introduced agile working in their Birmingham offices in 2013 and as a result were able to consolidate 4 office complexes into just 1. As a result they anticipate in making £30m savings in property costs alone over the first 10 years. These actions also led to their lowest ever turnover of staff at 12% per year and 87% of staff now saying it is a good place to work.
EC Harris introduced agile working when they moved to a new headquarters (ECHQ) and say they have received good results due to their decision. They claim they received a 13% increase in profits which reflected reduction of 14% in overheads compared to staff costs. They also showed an increase in effective space utilization from 62% to 85%.
PRACTICAL IMPLEMENTATION OF AGILE WORKING
Of course not all businesses are the same and so no one agile working plan can be used by all businesses plus, only certain staff and skill sets would be compatible to agile working. However, regardless of how large or small a business or what type of business it partakes in, any level of transformation to a smart working model such as agile working, could provide benefits of better productivity, higher moral among the workforce and the environmental benefit of the business creating a smaller carbon footprint.