The genesis of agile working is doing more with less. It is defined as bringing well-matched people, processes, connectivity, technology, time and place together in the most appropriate way to achieve a particular task or goal. It is working smarter, not harder to achieve the highest potential.
It generally involves working outside the box of normal office hours and the places associated with a typical office job. Agile working incorporates the traditional components of who, what, when where and how:
source = Who carries out the work
role = What may switch between full and part time, as the situation mandates
time = When the employees choose to work and meet, and on what days of the week
location = Where: at home, remotely from a co-working space, client office or in the main office
autonomy = How people choose to participate
In an agile workplace, teams become empowered to choose how they work in order the meet the goals set for them within the company. Agile working is not new, but it is a new way of working for most businesses, even in this age of technology. Traditional roles still apply in many instances. But it can highly benefit most functions. Outside sales teams have embraced this work ethic for many years, deploying technology, communication and ways of creating micro working environments to better serve their needs.
Progressive improvement in mobile, wireless and fixed line technology, bandwidth, server capacity, device capability, cloud computing and unified communication (or convergence) have made agile working much easier than it used to be. In fact, the network or the digital world is increasingly seen as a place of work with the consequent rise of people working virtually or in the “cloud”.
The goal in adopting agile working includes creating a more responsive, efficient and effective organization, which improves business performance and vicariously increases customer satisfaction. By empowering employees to work how, where and when they choose there is evidence of an exponential increase in their productivity as well as service improvements. The caveat….organizations that become more tuned into the responsiveness and effectiveness of employees gain more control of their bottom line.
This often becomes the foundation of work-life integration. Company dashboard logins have streamlined accessible information and make it much easier to have remote access to everything an office has to offer. This ready access to information offers a greater choice in the way we schedule work and interact with colleagues and business associates. When activities are no longer restricted to ‘work time’ and personal/social activities to ‘non-work time’ the boundary between the two merges. As well as mixing personal and business information on the same device, many people are now mixing their business and personal meeting time. This type of work-life integration is the essence of agile working.
Managing this change in roles is a trade-off for both employers and employees. For employers, it’s adapting a more responsive relaxed attitude toward staff working practices. For the employee, it’s about accepting greater responsibility in meeting commitments toward the shared goals of the company.
Office design has seen a trend toward more collaborative cultures that bridge this gap nicely. An integrative lobby and touchdown spaces for connectivity among the agile workforce has taken on a stronger role in office design and planning. Accommodating the changing workflow of the mobile workforce opens the corporate world to even more agile thinking on every level.
The creation energy generated by connecting with like minded individuals is an uncharted win-win situation.
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