Ever since the rise of agile manufacturing in the latter half of the 20th century, business decision makers and buzz-word enthusiasts have been keen to apply the word ‘agile’ to all manner of business activity. This blog takes a look at the one of the most promising implementations of ‘agility’ into the business lexicon, namely agile working environments.
Agile working seeks to separate the act of working itself from any single location, empowering teams and individuals to choose the workspace most suited to their needs. Agile working appreciates that an employee may not need to be at their desk to carry out their duties, for example, a cross-functional team may need to hot-desk in response to new product launch from their competitor. Agile working aims to create motivated, productive teams and individuals who will collectively help to achieve the end goal of greater efficiencies and being more responsive to demand.
The cost savings could be huge!
Greater Manchester has seen rapid growth over the past decade, welcoming major players from a range of sectors such as the BBC, Google and Thomas Cook, it should therefore come as no surprise that the region is now the most expensive place to lease an office outside of London. Agile working environments can mitigate some of these rising costs by enabling employees to work remotely, saving the need for office space and subsequently the costs associated with renting and running an office. The cost of travelling and the potential for travel disruption are also mitigated, reducing your organisation’s fuel expenditure and non-productive travelling time, while allowing improved business continuity.
Attracts the best and brightest
Ever since Google opened their university campus styled ‘Googleplex’ they have led the way in terms of attention-grabbing workplace design. Google’s offices are built around the key principles of agile working, realising that a desk may not always be the most productive workspace and re-configuring the work environment into a variety of settings such as small study rooms, lecture theatres and cafeterias. One of the benefits of agile working comes from the spontaneous interactions between employees from contrasting parts of the organisation that would not be possible in a traditional office environment. The freedom offered by agile working is certainly a draw to the best and brightest candidates who are looking for organisations who will nurture and develop their talent. Embedding agile working philosophies into your office space may not only attract the best talent but may also keep them working for you rather than your competitors!
Nurtures employee wellbeing
Agile working enables employees to work in an environment which will foster greater focus and productivity, whilst this increase in productivity is due to the ability to work collaboratively, much of the benefit is derived from each individual employee working in a comfortable environment, free from the distractions of a traditional working environment. As Natalia explored in her recent article, 8 out of 10 employees are worried about the impact of spending all day sat at a desk, a very sedentary experience at best and one that is especially concerning when we consider 65% of managers surveyed have been approached regarding mental health issues. Agile working offers the employee the opportunity to decide where they would be most productive, removing both the stress of commuting and the need sit at a desk all day. Furthermore, a study by Worldatwork found that workplace flexibility has an overwhelmingly positive impact on employee motivation, engagement and satisfaction. Alongside smart office design, agile working can create the optimum workplace environment which promotes greater productivity without compromising employee wellbeing.
Reduces your environmental impact
One of the greatest pressures on organisations is the need to be environmentally conscious, with scrutiny now greater than ever on how businesses ensure they minimise their environmental impact. It comes as no surprise that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs found rush hour traffic produces the greatest amount of harmful air pollution, which is detrimental to both the environment as well as the health of the public. Agile working can reduce your carbon footprint as employees are able to work and conduct meetings from the convenience of their own home, removing the unnecessary environmental damage caused by travelling between offices. And when face-to-face meetings are important, agile working makes the best use of this time by allowing teams to meet and interact at times most suitable to them and in an office environment that maximises productivity and wellbeing.
Agile means you’re ready for change
As with agile software development and agile manufacturing, agile working can increase a company’s overall responsiveness to market pressures. Agile working removes the rigid structure of traditional offices facilitating easier cross-functional collaboration through hot-desking and ad-hoc team meetings, drawing together the knowledge and expertise of a diverse team of people when needed. This agile collaboration is vital in fast-paced industries where ideas and strategies need to be developed on-the-fly to respond to constantly innovating rivals.
These are just some of the benefits of adopting an agile workplace environment, of course agile working may not always be feasible for all organisations and decision makers may face resistance to change, however agile working is swiftly becoming the norm in the world of business.
Are you looking for forward thinking design which embraces the principles of agile working? Contact us.