The modern employee has unique needs with regards to balancing work and home life. This is why the traditional 9-5 has been increasingly tweaked to fit with the lives of employees, and the two keywords that are associated with modern work are ‘agile’ and ‘flexible’. The words have similar meanings but are very different concepts when it comes to working schedules. Simply put, one involves having more flexibility for your work-life balance, while the other is to make the actual execution of your work more agile.
Under the Flexible Working Regulations, employees have the right to request flexible working to take more control over their own lives. Flexible working can include different working hours, work-from-home options and job shares. Conversely, agile working is all about the business. An agile project is one where the research, design, planning and development all happen simultaneously. This allows for ongoing improvements throughout the process, with a new system only going live once it has been proven to work and meet user needs. Through the use of technology, all employees can work from different locations and at different times, resulting in improved productivity and reduced office costs.
The primary difference between agile working and the broader concept of flexible working is commitment. Flexible working can be easily implemented using common technology, but an agile working scheme requires a big commitment from everyone from management to team members. Flexible working focuses on the employee, helping individuals to improve their own work-life balance for greater happiness. Agile work is designed to benefit the company and employee equally; staff get the freedom to work when/where they want, but the objective is a more performance-focused organisation.
Agile and flexible tools
Many of the same tools are deployed for flexible and agile working practices. Things like hot desking, mobile devices, convertibles and laptops play into both, and wireless connectivity is absolutely essential. A commitment to agile working, however, requires a more targeted change of IT strategy. Things like team and collaboration platforms, unified communications and VPN tech help ensure all remote employees stay connected and know what’s required of them whenever and wherever they are working. To help, offices can incorporate solutions like the Studiobricks Hola booth for privacy when video conferencing.
The flexible office can support an agile working strategy, but the complete strategy must take things further. It is crucial to provide various work spaces that are well-suited to the different purposes needed and give staff the spaces to work in different configurations.
Going agile is not a simple undertaking, but the benefits for the organisation can be wide-ranging. Productivity and employee satisfaction can be dramatically increased, and stress-related illnesses become few and far between. While flexible working is good news for employees, agile working is beneficial for everyone involved. If you need advice on how to optimise your office space for your own agile working strategy, contact Aprés Furniture on 020 7721 7914. We supply a range of office furniture solutions that can tailor your space to the varying needs of agile working.