As a response to changes in technology and demographic shifts, organisations today must embrace an agile working culture or risk being left behind.
Research shows that agile organisations have a 70 percent chance of being in the top quartile of organizational health, and 84% of respondents in a recent Capita agile workspace survey said their slowness in rolling out new services and applications to support an agile workspace is impacting their entire organisation’s ability to stay ahead of the competition.
In this blog we explore the importance of an agile working culture and tips for how you can introduce agile into your organisation.
What is agile working? A definition
Agile working originates from software development practices, allowing teams to develop solutions in a fluid way, rather than rigidly sticking to a plan.
One of the main elements to agile working is the flexible approach to getting to the desired outcome. In terms of working culture, outside of software development, this represents allowing the employee to reach their objectives in the way that works best for them, rather than focusing on how they get there. The culture of working ‘anywhere, at any time, and however you want’ - is what the blog will primarily concentrate on.
The importance of instilling an agile working culture
There are two main reasons why an agile workplace is important:
- Autonomy: It’s doubtful anyone enjoys being micromanaged, but it’s also not the way to get the best from your employees as it is forcing a certain behaviour, one that matches how the manager would work. This creates a demoralising culture that becomes only as creative as the individual who is micro-managing. Allowing autonomy allows freedom for employees to be their best, which is not only empowering to the individual but drives far greater productivity.
- Flexibility: Flexible remote working is now the third most important factor to happiness at work, with pay and holiday remaining the top 2 according to UK workers. This could be linked to responsibilities, such as mortgages and children, that often drives prioritisation of other benefits. Younger generations waiting longer before having these types of responsibilities, while older generations are working until later in life meaning their responsibilities are greatly reduced. This allows both to be more challenging of the working culture they are willing to accept.
Linking both these reasons with the opportunity that modern workplace technologies offer, then there aren’t many reasons for not instilling an agile working culture.
What are the 4 main benefits of an agile workplace?
It goes without saying that demotivated workers aren’t very productive. The prospect of working harder for longer, which many of the younger generation are now facing, isn’t going to improve employees’ productivity. If organisations drive their employees to work harder for longer, they will just become demotivated, and thus the quality time that they are working reduces.
Everyone is different and works in their own ways. An agile workplace enables people to express this. For example, when considering times of the day people work best. Some people feel more alert in the morning, whereas others prefer working later in the day / evening. And some people may even prefer to fragment their working day or even week. If you instil an agile working culture, the time of day an employee is working doesn’t matter as long as they reach their objectives in the defined timeframe.
Recruitment and retention of staff
It’s very rare these days that people stay with the same company for their whole lives. It’s become easier to change jobs, so it’s never been as important to keep employees happy. Today’s organisations don’t get many second chances.
Having an agile working culture can attract talent and importantly can then help to retain the talent they have invested heavily in.
Any organisation will know that physical office space is a significant expenditure. Although having a base where employees can meet face-to-face when required can be extremely beneficial, this doesn’t mean organisations need a permanent office to house all employees full-time. Choosing remote working and funding use of shared office spaces can significantly reduce all the costs that go with running large head and remote offices, which are often also in expensive locations.
How do you introduce agile working into your organisation?
If you want to implement an agile workplace, then you first must evaluate your organisation’s attitude towards and ability to enable flexible working. There are several elements to consider for this:
- The HR department needs to introduce policies to allow flexibility and must work with the management teams to introduce a culture of trust into the business. Without trust, flexible working does not work. The important step here is to instil remote and flexible working as a company policy not at managerial discretion, this removes any bias managers may have towards individuals or working practices.
- Having top down objectives is key, where every employee takes a share of the central set of business objectives. There may be some additional personal or departmental objectives that supplement this, but having common objectives means all are ‘swimming’ in the same direction. Objectives based on numbers, such as financial or satisfactions scores, are optimal but do require having access to quality data to be able to interrogate performance accurately.
- Along with the cultural side, technology is important is enabling an agile workplace. With the correct collaboration ecosystems and cloud services, organisation’s today have unbound access to new models of working. Once more, the correct technology must be used to enable the correct data collection, which is needed to ensure management are analysing objectives and outcomes performed by their employees, a key component to the agile culture.
How can you get support introducing an agile workspace?
Importantly, don’t be afraid to seek support. There is no need to reinvent wheels. Seeking the advice of experts is a far more efficient and cost-effective way to transform your organisation.
Capita’s consultancy function has specialists in people and culture who are excellently placed to provide support with the cultural challenges, whilst our modern workplace framework provides a clear path for transforming you technologies from where they are today to where they need to be, providing an optimal user experience for agile working.
Contact us today to find out how we can help you.