Out with the old and in with the new as agile working gathers pace
Agile Many organisations are stuck in the past but could boost productivity and cut costs with an agile approach to business in 2016, says Fiona Cannon, CEO of the Agile Future Forum.
The world of work is changing and organisations that fail to realise the business benefits of adopting a more agile approach could be left behind in 2016.
Many employers still operate a 19th century, five days a week, 9-5 model, but in many ways this is ineffective nowadays.
The impact of increased globalisation, new technology, higher expectations from customers, changing demographics in the workplace and the fact people are working to an older age, means more organisations will become agile this year. Research from the CBI reveals that 95% of employers believe agility is vital to their company’s success. Analysis by the Agile Future Forum states that sales rise and workplace costs can be cut by between 3%-13% by following an agile agenda.
Traditionally flexible working has been regarded as something that only benefits the employee, but the day-to-day business advantages are becoming clearer all the time.
One of the biggest drivers is the ability to serve customers more effectively because the staff resource if used more efficiently. Another trend likely to accelerate in 2016 is the use of technology to cut the cost of employee travel. Many internal meetings can be carried out virtually using phone or video conferencing by staff working remotely.
Research from the CBI reveals that 95% of employers believe agility is vital to their company’s success.
At Lloyds Banking Group where I am inclusion and diversity director we have introduced a No Travel Week each month which removes the burden on people to travel to London for non-urgent internal meetings. The initiative has changed many people’s mind-set.
A manufacturing member of the Agile Future Forum has improved productivity by 10% by up-skilling its employees to undertake additional roles. Agile can be a strategic differentiator in competitive markets, but moving to a more agile approach and managing people in a different way can be hard to implement. This is about remaining competitive in the 21st Century so such a new way of working must be led by senior management and not seen as a project for the HR department. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to implementing agile so the process must be carried out at business unit level.
Companies should behave as if they are a new entrant into their market. What would they do if they did not operate within the constraints they currently face? Of course, some of those restrictions must be built back in, but this process can help organisations understand how agility can benefit them. It is time to think differently In many organisations, for example, staff have been offered a limited list of options if they want to work flexibly. Throw away that list and have a complete open mind because someone might want to work in a way that is not on the official list but would benefit the organisation.
This is a win-win approach to working because in 2016 employers need agility and employees want it.