As we now enter the ‘unlocking’ phase of the COVID restrictions, business owners and leaders are making challenging decisions on what to do with existing office spaces. Do we really want to step back into 2019 and not retain some of the best practices we adopted spontaneously during the pandemic? Do we also want to return to having the overhead costs to run and maintain such large office spaces? Do our employees really want to return to the office full time?
So, what can we do differently? Well, one concept that is no longer new but a ’new way of working’ is agile working.
What is agile working?
In a nutshell, it is the concept that work is an activity we do, rather than a place we go. Agile working incorporates dimensions of time and place flexibility and also emphasises doing work differently, focusing on performance and outcomes.
Businesses allow employees to work in variable locations to complete the tasks necessary to do their job on any given day. This may be in an office at a desk with their colleagues, in a breakout area, in a coffee shop or at home. The ability to offer true agile working comes from providing appropriate practices, processes, and technology. One of these practices could be remove desk ownership and allow space to be flexible depending on day to day requirements.
Agile working is not a move to contractual homeworking. Although employees will work from home on an ad hoc basis, there will be no changes to their contractual terms and conditions. Homeworking options form part of an agile working solution.
Agile working does not also necessitate a change to an employees’ working pattern. However, if an employee chooses to apply for flexible working under your company policy, it may also contribute to an agile working solution.
Agile working can contribute to a business’s sustainability goals by reducing the footprint of office space and mitigating unnecessary travel.
It allows employees to have the freedom and autonomy to work from the best location to make the best use of time and resources, in turn improving productivity and reducing overhead costs.
Whilst an initial investment, businesses can utilise the latest technology for communication and collaboration and ensure that they are technologically advanced for the future.
Agile working drives employees to make time together count, enabling employees to be more flexible in how they work and encourages team collaboration and cohesion.
It also encourages the development of new working practices that allow teams to spend more time with their business contacts, customers, or clients.
- Design a layout with team ‘hot desks’, consider the use of name tags for employees to place on desktops and ensure that they are removed at the end of each day. This helps people to locate employees in the office space.
- Consider if ‘hot desks’ require hard-wired landlines. If so, ensure that employees are provided with individual log-ins when using the desk space.
- Offer teams allocated cabinets or storage facilities, ensuring that employees have somewhere to leave files and papers.
- Provide a meeting room for confidential meetings and booths for fairly short non-confidential informal meetings. Consider implementing a room booking procedure to ensure employees have the comfort of knowing they have a room available should they attend the office for a meeting.
- Promote the use of Outlook’s (or your business IT system’s) calendar system. Employees should allow others to view their diaries in order to promote effective collaboration and communication.
- Embed a chosen IT platform such as Microsoft Teams to ensure employees have the tools for remote communication and collaborative working.
- Ensure that all employees are fully training on the systems and processes for agile working.
Agile working is not prescription; one size does not fit all. Essentially, as business owners or leaders, you have a choice in how, what, where and when you want your employees to work. If you would like to discuss how we can help you adopt agile working, please get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org← Back to all articles