Why businesses must accept Agile working if they are to thrive in the future.

Agile Working has certainly seen a rise in recent years, driven largely by the advances in the cloud and mobile technology. Often confused with ‘Flexible Working’, Agile working isn’t just about working part-time or remotely, but looks at work as ‘tasks’, rather than a physical destination you travel to five days a week.


In an Agile environment, ‘work’ becomes an activity rather than a place, explains Martyn Freeman, managing director of Mitie’s facilities management business. “Agile working supports a much more collaborative way of doing business and with the right technology, it gives people the ability to work wherever they happen to be and whenever it suits them to do so.” Followers of the Agile way, believe you can work anywhere with the right technology, the right people and the right environment.


This working approach enables maximum flexibility and minimum constraints – empowering businesses to enhance an individual’s performance and deliver the best service for the organisation. The benefits are many, with some including a reduction in attrition rates – where it is estimated that two-thirds of employees would take another job to ease the commute or have flexible working.


Furthermore, businesses find a decrease in unscheduled absences, resulting in increased productivity. Many employees who call in sick do so because of family issues, personal needs, and stress. This is significantly reduced with an Agile working approach as the relationship is much more trusted and open. It enables honest conversations about the needs of the employee’s circumstances and the organisation’s needs – resulting in a mutually respectful relationship.


General employee satisfaction with their complete package is increased. Research confirms that 36% of people would choose working from home over a pay rise (a poll of 1,500 technology professionals revealed that 37% would take a pay cut of 10% if they could work from home). Gen Y’ers are particularly attracted to flexible work arrangements (rating among benefits as an 8 on a 10 scale for impact on overall job satisfaction) – so whilst a typically hard group to recruit, this way of working is becoming more attractive to these individuals who often place overall job satisfaction above earning the most money.


As Douglas Coupland, author of Generation X, JPod and Microserfs explains

“The nine-to-five is barbaric. I really believe that. I think one day we will look back at nine-to-five employment in a similar way to how we see child labour in the 19th century,”


It is believed that in years to come, the concept of the rigid 9-5 will become old fashioned and irrelevant, especially in a time when the ‘job for life’ is no longer something people crave. Job satisfaction that fits in with the rest of people’s lives is what matters most – not a working schedule filled with rigid routine and structure.


Furthermore, some experts have predicted an impact on the increased demand for city centre located offices – providing flexible workers with a central meeting space where they can meet face-to-face when necessary.  Offices located where public transport is convenient, with strong local amenities are becoming even more important for Agile businesses. Commercial property trends are seeing a decline in the desire for ‘office park’ type environments which soared in popularity 30 years ago, as they tend to have poorer transport connections and often higher rents.  Research shows that Millennials now have less access to their own transport (only 35% of under 20s have a car compared to 43% 20 years ago), so an office that can easily be accessed by train, bike or on foot will become more attractive to growing businesses – enabling them to cast the net wider when it comes to offering an overall attractive recruitment package.

So as businesses want to grow and attract new talent, it will become increasingly challenging if they aren’t prepared to accept an Agile way of working and adapt their thinking as a recruiter. If it’s acceptable for the Millennials, it must apply to everyone in the entire organisation. This will come as a welcome change for many, who have been asking for a fresh approach since the universal use of smartphones and the cloud really took off ten years ago. People who can multi-task using their smartphone are probably some of the hardest working people your business could employ.


Nik Cox, Director, Hughes Ellard

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