WHAT IS AGILE WORKING?
There are now places where you can book ad-hoc working spaces like the hybrid working app by Autonomous where you can book desks from agile offices. Without realising it, many businesses have moved to an agile working structure over the last year and a half. Essentially, an agile working structure means that a business or employee adopts a completely flexible attitude to their work in order to improve their performance and productivity. This often means that businesses have to do a complete overhaul on how they traditionally work, reshaping the day-to-day operations and transforming the way they work that benefits the business at large. This could involve the hours people work, the manner in which they work, the way colleagues communicate, or even where people are actually working.
Agile working has many positives. Essentially, if the business can show the clients (and the employees) that it is willing to ‘think differently’ about how it can increase productivity, then it creates a ‘fresh’ and ‘open-minded’ image which sets the business against their more traditional competitors.
Agile working can, however, have some growing pains. Convincing a business that it needs to completely change the way they’ve been working can be met with resistance. There may be negativity, pessimism, or even blanket refusal to see the benefits of working to a completely new structure. And even if everyone gets on board with this new way of working, there is a possibility that if it isn’t well managed it could still go completely wrong. Sometimes traditional working structures may seem boring, but they are safe.
WHAT IS FLEXIBLE WORKING?
This is all very different to flexible working. Flexible working is more employee-focussed, and is often employed when an employee has a specific circumstance (childcare, disability, travel issues) which means that they need to change their working situation. An employee might request they move to a flexible working model so that they can work from home, come to work later or not stay at work for as long. Although this has traditionally been looked at as a structure that benefits the employee but costs the business, recent months have proven otherwise. Many employees have had to change the way they work because they may have to self-isolate, or get sick, meaning that they can still technically work but not in the traditional method. However, many businesses are seeing that their productivity hasn’t had the sharp decline they feared – and recognising employee’s preferred personal working structures can even increase their productivity.
The pros and cons for flexible working are quite obvious. Firstly, if an employee is allowed the freedom to work to a structure that is built around their schedule and individual needs then they will become more loyal and grateful to the business. Their productivity may increase as they will feel as if they are part of a team that truly wants to work with them. However, there is always the possibility that a lack of time spent in the office will make them less connected to the business and their colleagues – but couldn’t that happen anyway if their circumstances are ignored?
While agile working and flexible working may be similar in how they achieve their aim, for example both approaches could allow an employee to work from home, flexible working focuses on the employee, while agile working is focused on the impacts on the business. However, both have potentially similar outcomes. Whether the focus is on the employee or productivity, both agile working and flexible working have the possibility of increasing employees’ mentality as well as the business’ overall productivity. And both will show potential clients/ employees that your business is willing to think differently.
Some people prefer a hybrid remote work approach. Which one do you prefer?