A lot has been discussed about Agile Working. It is no longer just a buzz term, it has now been given far more credibility amongst modern firms looking to recruit and retain Generation Y.
During the last dot-com boom and bust in 2001, anyone not glued to their desk was shown the door, along with the table football. This time around though, the tech market is more mature and the new breed of young, connected and savvy workers are used to having the freedom to work at times, and places, to suit them.
Agile Working seeks to embody the connectivity that we find ourselves surrounded by, and embrace it. Employees can connect reliably to a cloud server or web based desktop viewer and work from a coffee shop as easily as from their desk.
The concept of home working still works well with those looking to create a more flexible working life, but employers have often tended to overlook home-workers or part-timers for more immediate or regular tasks. Rightly or wrongly the differences between the various ways of working can get blurred. ‘Working from home’ is also now a slightly jaded term which perhaps conjures up an image of a civil servant sitting in his jammies whilst trying to get his dial-up broadband to work.
Working away from the office has also to failed in the past due to lack of community connection, but social networking is now the norm for Generation Y. The disconnection that some may feel from not having a desk space, simply is no longer an issue. The personalisation of a cubicle has given way to the personalisation of your laptop or login screen. The concept of Agile Working avoids the stereotypes and embraces the new technology.
Immediate savings can be made by companies looking to adopt Agile Working. Fewer desk spaces can create instant reductions in ongoing occupational costs. Property and energy outgoings are reduced, also, and crucially, recruitment and staff retention can immediately improve.
Upfront costs for changing the working style can be minimised if carefully considered. New IT systems and enhanced breakout areas are capital costs but can be recouped easily if they are designed and used effectively.
Benefits are immediate, with employees appreciating the work/life balance that they see others enjoying. Login times can be monitored on company equipment better than ever before and actual working hours can be assessed.
Cliques of people can be very damaging in static desk arrangements, and can be limited by allowing freedom of movement. Creativity tends to be enhanced if space creates ‘collision spaces’for staff to discuss work issues and socialise with a broader group of colleagues.
Whilst for many of the older generation, the smartphone being a permanent appendage can be a stressful necessity. To the majority of younger workers, it is part of their body - like another organ. This should not be ignored and should be actually embraced to create the new ideal working environments, whether that be the coffee shop, a deckchair or the red-eye from Chicago.
It looks like Agile Working is here to stay and whilst it doesn't suit everyone, a modern company should not ignore it.
Agile Working can work for many companies but not all. Liaison between FM, HR, IT and Execs will be all important. We can assist in this transformation and advise on how best to approach the change process, through our own expertise and recommended specialist consultants.