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Ladies and gentlemen, agile working is now officially a thing!
And rightly so! This new trend, which basically started as a ‘buzzword’ in the corporate circles, now has a life of its own.
Little did everyone know that companies and top executives would have no choice but to pay attention to this new way of working as the idea silently grew and caught on.
But before we dig in further into why agile working has become such an important concept in today’s working environment, let’s recap a little bit on how this new phenomenon came to be.
Agile Working Is Good For Your Business
If you think about it, agile working is really not an entirely new concept.
The ideas existed way before it finally became the sought-after concept it is today. The only difference between then and now is that back then the concept was largely fragmented. These ‘fragments’ eventually gravitated towards each other and later merged to form what is now known as agile working.
It all started when companies allowed a section of employees to clock in say an hour after the official check in time but then they would have to clock out an hour later.
This was, and is still is, referred to as ‘flexitime’ – a practice that was initially mooted to accommodate working moms.
Other ideas and concepts were later incorporated into the working culture, like giving employees an opportunity to work from home from time to time.
Then came the workspace co-sharing, which worked extremely well for start-ups (which are basically early-adopters of agile working).
Soon after, cloud computing moved past being a hype and became the new reality.
Fast-forward to today – all these changes, concepts and ideas are part of what we call ‘agile working’.
Stiff resistance from anti-change proponents and conservative managers notwithstanding, agile working has now metamorphosed from just another corporate lingo into a must-have.
But even as this interesting concept continues to disrupt the work environment, many are still in the dark as to why it is important, why are some companies excited about it, and how do they become part of this new culture of working?
In the process of trying to fit in, some are getting into it for all the wrong reasons.
Some even claim they apply it in their day-to-day operations but in reality, it only exists on paper (read website) or in their conversations.
So, to put this agile working concept into perspective, this article takes a look at some of these critical questions.
Why is Agile Working Important?
First of all, let’s agree that in a fast-paced world, change is inevitable. Workplace practices and consumer demands are constantly evolving and therefore businesses need to stay a step ahead — always.
These changes call for a relook at how employees can be empowered to adapt to these changes and still manage to deliver what is expected of them.
This is where flexible working comes in.
Most organisations have now realised that agility in the workplace has a direct effect on their competitiveness in their respective industries.
Speed, ladies and gentlemen, has, for the very first time, overtaken perfection. Disagree? Read on and you may change your views.
Agile working is important because it energises your employees.
There’s something about being able to work wherever and whenever that motivates and inspires employees. It significantly boosts their productivity and enhances creativity – two extremely important factors for success.
Agile working has now broken workplace barriers that confined them to a traditional and static environment.
It energises your customers as well.
When a company is always creating new and exciting opportunities for customers, it keeps them excited, alert, and curious. Customers will, therefore, be “tuned” in to see what you will come up with next. This keeps them engaged – discussing your products and services. This is how the best kind of brand awareness is born.
How does this relate to speed overtaking perfection, you ask?
Well, without agile working, your company would always be stuck in perfection-mode while your competitor is making real sales. The way I see it, you can never achieve 100 percent perfection unless you release your product when it’s already obsolete.
That’s why features are constantly being improved on after products hit the market. Otherwise, you would always be playing catch up as you try to tweak your product only to find out when you launch that consumer demands have changed.
What Are Some of the Benefits of Agile Working?
Number one – key decisions are made quickly. Agile workers can quickly get together, discuss the issues at hand and make quick decisions. They don’t take ages to schedule a meeting anymore. Nor do they spend hours in said meeting without reaching a decision. When they need to meet, they do it – almost informally.
Agile working also attracts the Millennial generation. This group, unlike the Baby-Boomers and Generation X, particularly thrive in a fast-paced environment. They like being autonomous, prefer fast response times, and flexibility.
Millennials also like “cool” places to work. But you probably already know that by now.
So the question is, is your workplace “cool” enough to attract Millennials and, most importantly, retain them? The freedom that comes with agile working can also boost employee loyalty.
And speaking of a cool place to work…
How Do You Create an Agile Office?
The answer to this question has everything to do with your office interior design and layout.
You are less likely to rip the full benefits of agile working if you don’t create the right working environment for your employees.
Agile working calls for a professionally designed space that ultimately gives employees the freedom and flexibility to operate. Such spaces should also allow employees to work in different areas of an office, or remotely via hot-desking.
With properly designed office layouts, teams are now encouraged to work in a more open and collaborative space. Technological advancements have also paved way for the development of agile working apps and solutions that help companies manage flexible workspace environments.
(image by Vincent Hartman)
But agile working is not a one-size-fits-all. You need to get an expert workplace consultant to advise and recommend the best and most effective combination for your company and employees.
Most companies that have made the all-important switch to agile working are now literally laughing all the way to the bank. Why? Well, because their bottom line has significantly improved.