A new dimension to flexible working: agile working

“I’m going to work” is a phrase that a lot of people probably say in the morning to their partner. But what do you actually mean when you say: “I’m going to work”? Are you saying that you are going to do the activity ‘work’ or are you going to the place that you call ‘work’? The difference seems small, but it is actually the difference between traditional working and flexible working.

I am quite sure that most of you know the difference between traditional working and flexible working. Just to make sure: traditional working is working in an office at your own desk. With flexible working you have your own laptop, which you use to work anywhere you want.

As the blog’s title already suggests, with agile working you add a new dimension to flexible working. Let me further elaborate.

Empowered employees

Flexible working has two dimensions. Firstly, the time dimension, the when employees choose to work. Employees can choose to work at different times of the day, or different days of the week, or even only certain weeks in a year. Secondly, the location dimension, the where employees choose to work. Employees can choose to work at the office, at home, at work hubs, at cafés and/or while travelling. So far, so good, right?

The third dimension that agile working brings into this mix is autonomy, the how employees choose to work. In an organization that has adopted agile working successfully, employees are empowered to choose how they work in order to meet their goals. Everyone has their own responsibility and budget. There are more flexi-teams and skills based tasking. Flexi-teams are teams formed to meet specific needs. As soon as ‘the need’ is fulfilled, the team will dissolve. Skills based tasking is assessing and assigning tasks and projects based on competences, not role.

With agile working, the traditional management hierarchy does not exist. Instead, the formed groups are autonomous and the members of the formed groups corrects each other in order to ensure quality. The management does not control the groups. The key for success is trust in your colleagues/employees.

Now that you have a basic understanding of agile working we can come to the most important question. What’s in it for me?

Advantages

Flexible working is mostly beneficial for the employee, and not so much for the employer. Agile working though can be beneficial for both the organization and the employee. The biggest improvement for your business is that you become more flexible to change. You will be able to adapt faster to specific needs or demands from the customer, because there are less hierarchy lines that have to consent with every decision.

Furthermore, thanks to the autonomous teams the management will have more time to do long-term management. Management can now add real value by perfecting the business strategy and thinking of new ways to add business value. A few other benefits for the employer are: better utilization of skills, space savings and meeting customer’s expectations.

The benefit for the employee is an increase in wellbeing, health and happiness. This seems a little far-reached, but because you place more trust in your employees and use their skill set in a correct manner your employees will feel more valued. This will bring a higher business engagement and satisfaction, which leads ultimately to a higher wellbeing, health and happiness.

The new working generation, the millennials, should also be considered. They simply demand that their employer is agile. They want to be able to have access to their data anytime, anywhere. They want to be able to work at home, at the office or while under way. Millennials are not used to being ordered. They are more used to working in a team without a superior. It is essential for the future of your business to look after the demands and needs of new employees. Therefore, introducing agile working is a must.

How can I implement agile working?

Firstly, you need to understand that agile working is fundamentally a change in mindset and principles, not just practices. Secondly, you should also understand that your project leaders are key in changing the mindset and principles. They lay the foundation with clear education about what agile is and why it should be implemented. Only when you build an understanding of what you are trying to achieve within your company culture it can be successful. What helps in explaining the why is formulating business goals, what do you want to achieve by implementing agile working?

If you would like to see how we are using agile working methods to improve our business, then please feel free to come into our office. Our door is always open. A part of our office is dedicated as a working area for our customers.

onepoint NL, IT as a utility

The original post can be found here.