Agile Working

by Ann McCracken

I recently took my dogs on an Agility course and it was inspiring! We learned to work together to achieve outcomes we have hardly imagined, we both had to work harder than we have ever done, we did things we have never done before and we want to do again!!

Agile Working

This got me thinking about Agile Working as we have recently been asked to run courses on this topic. “Doing more with less” is required as Council cuts are in the 9% range of total expenditure and private sector organisations are actively looking at reorganisation to create more efficiency to impact the bottom line.

Flexible working is different to Agile working. Flexible working has come to mean varied and additive working hours, varied places of work : hot desking, home working/teleworking, job sharing, part time and part year options.

Agile working is a step change from this, it has been described by BT as a new paradigm and by Dell as a “transformational approach to provide services and outcomes differently through changes to working practices (people) environments (property) and technology”.

‘Change’ is one of the HSE Risk Factors for work related stress and many people find change challenging resulting in fearful, anxious workers, the possibility of increased absence (and employee costs) as well as reduced productivity and lack of trust in ‘management’. With redundancies, come under utilisation of an organisation’s buildings and the need to review their use with the option of giving them up. Some people experience grief symptoms when they have to change their work station or work place and can become demotivated and a source of negativity which can be extremely infectious.

It is therefore essential that when working practices and work sites, as well as working hours and pay structures are changing this is done with thought, real  consultation, listening to employees ideas and suggestions to encourage involvement and a willingness to try new ways of thinking and working and new ways of measuring acceptable output.

We could all learn a lot form companies who create roads, transport people, goods, electricity, gas and data.  They have been working in mobile environments for years and have absorbed new working practices in places some of us never knew existed.

There is no one way that works for all and the idea of losing boundaries can be scary for managers. The current measures of success – attendance and targets can be replaced by measurements of results, performance, influence, resourcefulness, motivation, adaptability, conscientiousness and empathy. These latter behaviours, relating to emotional intelligence are seldom appreciated, yet they can be the basis of highly effective employees and managers.

The next few years will undoubtedly see tablets, smart phones, apps, clouds and other amazing new options in a variety of flexible workplaces.

Perhaps I can find someone to develop an App to measure and advise on improving dog and human agility!

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