Are we ready to adopt agile working into the workplace?

 

A new piece of research on agile working has been released by Jobsite. Oh good, we thought. We haven’t covered this before. Let’s start the article with a nice definition around agile working and what it means. You know, just so everyone’s on the same page.

*Picture tumbleweed crossing the world wide web*

Really? There’s no definition for agile working. What? Not even on Wikipedia? Seemingly not.

Instead, what is generated is a number of bespoke definitions. You can access both Unilever’s and the NHS’s definition online. And there are commonalities, in that it’s about ‘maximum flexibility and minimum constraints’.

Yet for the purpose of the research, Jobsite focuses on the definition from website agile.org.uk, where Paul Allsopp BSc (Hons) has been using his own definition since 2009 “Agile working is about bringing people, processes, connectivity and technology, time and place together to find the most appropriate and effective way of working to carry out a particular task. It is working within guidelines (of the task) but without boundaries (of how you achieve it).”

Given that we couldn’t even find an official definition of ‘agile working’, we were even more interested to see what Jobsite’s research would unveil.

Surveying 2,574 candidates and 408 recruiters, the results were as follows. 43% of recruiters believe that agile working could replace the traditional office environment. Yet two thirds believe it currently causes management issues. Whilst 58% candidates believe more technology is needed for businesses to implement agile successfully, although 22% of candidates said they’d worked in an agile environment for over two years. The recruiters observed that agile working is most prevalent in the IT sector. And for those who like the idea of agile working, they said that they’d be willing to take a 16% drop in their annual salary for the opportunity.

According to the survey, the top benefits for businesses were highlighted as being better employee wellbeing (68%), reduced operation costs (59%), easier talent retention (56%), attracts better talent (56%) and finally provides flexibility to meet demands (55%). The drawback for businesses were flagged as being management difficulties (62%), less collaboration (46%) and less accountability (37%).

Let’s move on to the candidates. First up, the pros. Top of the list was better work/life balance (73%), followed by the fact that it provides flexibility to meet demands (59%), better wellbeing (54%), higher productivity (52%) and less pressure (38%). The negatives? Reduced interaction (54%), less structure (43%) and less teamwork (41%).

Jobsite CEO Nick Gold said- “The drive to meet the changing needs of more digitally-aware generations entering the workforce– as well as the constant requirement for businesses to push for increased productivity, reduced costs and faster innovation – has pressured many to evaluate their working practices. The digital transformation of the office is no longer an option to be ignored, for businesses who want to compete.”

So, are we ready? It’s reasonably clear how agile working can benefit both employers and employees alike. But it’s a bit like going on holiday with the in-laws. You need to lay down the ground rules first (if you stand any chance of talking to each other by the end of it). For whilst the lack of available definition is its strength (as agile working should be flexible), unless this flexibility is defined to a degree, it could be its weakness too. And the subject of dispute on both sides. 

 

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

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