What Is Agile Working?
Agile working represents a shift in how businesses are structuring themselves in terms of physical spaces, infrastructure and workflow strategies. Employees are empowered to carry out their duties in ways that enhance performance. This may mean that staff no longer spend all their work hours in an office or at a traditional office desk.
What Are The Benefits Of Agile Working?
Agile working offers many benefits to businesses and their employees with a shift-change that ultimately increases productivity while nurturing a happier work culture.
The following are just some of the benefits of agile working:
Productivity And Quality
Productivity and quality of work are boosted when workspaces, infrastructures and strategies are designed to suit the needs of the business and its workforce. The days of commuting to work to sit in a designated small box within an all-to-familiar big box are waning.
Health And Wellbeing
Agile working environments encourage new, healthier ways of working, both mentally and physically. Workspaces are more energetic, with flexibility that allows for good work-life balance, all of which leads to improved health and wellbeing.
Collaboration And Cohesion
Greater collaboration and workforce cohesion can be garnered when a business moves towards more agile ways of working, especially with hot-desking and when workspaces are shared. People mingle more, providing more opportunity for new ideas and relationships.
Creativity And Inspiration
Attractive and well thought out work environments, that are relaxed and fun, are infinitely more likely to inspire great ideas. Business thrives on great ideas.
Staff Retention And Talent Attraction
If a workplace is fun to work at and if an employee can see that they have been considered and invested in, then that is going to be a much more attractive prospect than the alternative. This will not only ensure that staff wish to stay in the business, but it will also make the business a magnet for new talent.
Lower Costs And Greater Efficiency
If a business can ensure that absenteeism and presenteeism are minimised, that staff are well-retained and producing high-quality work then it stands to reason that the business will run more efficiently. The obvious knock-on effect of this is reduced running costs and a healthier bottom line.
Autonomy And Accountability
With agile workflow strategies and infrastructure, staff are working in a much more autonomous way, especially if they are working from home or off-site. This means that staff are much more accountable for their own performance and organisation and are therefore more likely to deliver high-quality work, on time. They are also not going to need much, if any hand-holding, which will help the business run more efficiently.
Dynamic And Adaptable
Agile businesses are, at their core, much more dynamic and forward-thinking, which makes them able to evolve quickly if their marketplace requires it. This not only makes the business more robust and future-proof but probably also means they are more cutting edge and open to new ideas.
What Are The Risks Of Agile Working?
Agile working comes with many benefits, but this new way of working requires new ways to manage staff. Employers have a legal and moral obligation to look after their staff whether they are working on or off-site. As such, it is essential that staff are given risk assessments and provided with the correct equipment so they can work in safety, wherever their location.
Back Care Solutions can help mitigate the risks associated with agile working and provide support with the following key areas:
The most obvious area of agile working, and one that has been around for some time, is home working. It just got much easier. The progress of technology has made home working much more feasible with seamless integration from one location to another.
Homeworking means that people can concentrate and get their heads down when they need too, without the distraction of a bustling office, which is great for performance and work quality. Then it's easy enough to virtually return to the office once the need to concentrate isn't as great.
In terms of health and well being, the work-life balance that home working offers is highly appealing and removing the need to travel to work for an hour or two each day in rush hour is going to make the working day much easier to manage.
There are also environmental benefits to be gained from reducing the number of people travelling to work each day. Reducing the number of commuters means cleaner air, lower carbon footprint, less reliance on fossil fuels and reduced pressure on our transport network.
There are challenges that need to be addressed to make homeworking productive and safe.
- Has the workstation been set up correctly with the appropriate equipment?
- Is the workstation location within the home as conducive to performance as it can be?
- Are environmental factors such as lighting and ventilation adequate?
- Is there a policy in place that ensures regular contact?
Find out more information about home working in our homeworking guide.
A hot-desking, or shared environment, is one that has been designed so that employees share workstations, rather than work at a designated desk. This helps create a more robust team with a greater share of ideas because people are mingling with people they might not have before. Costs are also reduced as there is no need to purchase equipment to accommodate the entire workforce due to the ebb and flow of staff.
There are numerous factors that need to be addressed when designing hot-desking environments.
- Are there enough workstations to cope with peak office times?
- Do the workstations cater for people of all shapes and sizes?
- Are there any staff with specific needs and have these been covered?
- Can staff quickly adjust the workstations to meet their needs quickly and without tools?
- Are staff trained on how to use the equipment?
- Are staff able to collaborate?
- Can staff have privacy when they need it?
- Have environmental issues been considered, such as minimising the spread of germs?
Modern lifestyles can often mean sedentary behaviour which presents numerous health risks such as cardiovascular diseases, obesity, diabetes and musculoskeletal conditions. This can lead to a higher rate of absenteeism and presenteeism, whereby staff are turning in to work but underperforming.
Agile working is disruptive and helps to reduce sedentary behaviour, but there are factors to consider.
Active Working Considerations
- Has the environment been designed to encourage movement?
- Has equipment been provided that encourages movement such as sit-stand desks and chairs?
- Are there policies in place that ensure staff take regular breaks and exercise while at work?
Travel For Work Safety
The nature of agile working means that staff may travel more during work time and this makes travel safety a responsibility for the employer. In fact, the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 requires employers to take appropriate steps to protect staff while they are at work, including travel time.
Travelling for work offers numerous benefits but there are issues that need to be addressed to make it safe and compliant.
Travel For Work Considerations
- Has the right equipment been provided to ensure physical safety while sitting for long periods of time?
- Has the right equipment been provided that allows staff to work safely while travelling?
- If vehicles are being utilised, has their appropriateness been assessed?
- Have staff been trained on how to look after themselves while travelling?
- Are there policies in place that ensure staff take regular breaks and exercise while travelling for work?