Executive Summary / Introduction
Agile working encompasses working in a flexible way, such as part-time or compressed hours or regularly working away from the office as either a remote or mobile worker, perhaps working from home or from another office or client site, away from the rest of the team. This research showed a clear link between agile working and employee engagement but also a career penalty for agile workers. Management skills and leadership emerged as important factors successfully embedding agility as a business solution in organisations. These themes are explored in this research through focus groups in four different organisations with managers, teams and agile workers.
Understanding the benefits of agile working. Both managers and team members recognised that agile working, when managed properly, can bring enormous benefits. The benefits were expressed in terms of: Recruitment and retention Productivity Encouraging a more empowering management style More flexibility in resourcing Reduction in office accommodation costs More control and less stress for individuals Better balance between work and personal commitments for individuals. Agile working provides organisations with the opportunity to increase employee engagement, develop management capacity and enhance operational effectiveness. However, simply providing an agile working policy for remote and flexible working will achieve none of these things. This research suggests that if agile working opportunities are instituted as a bolt-on to the list of employee benefits then there will certainly be benefits to individuals, and probably improvements in recruitment and retention. However, without a fundamental review of the way that work is organised and managed, the improvements in organisational effectiveness and the flexibility of human resources that agile working promises will not be delivered. Integrating agile working into an organisation cannot be done with a “quick fix”. Below are the steps needed to begin making these changes.