Bill Horrell

By Bill Horrell
Business Account Manager |

For many years we’ve been talking about the benefits of agile working: by giving people the choice and freedom to work wherever or whenever they choose, we can promote optimum performance, wellbeing and job satisfaction. For businesses that have embraced agile working, the benefits are tangible and cost effective; from lower staff turnover and sickness, to increased productivity.

So why isn’t everyone doing it? A recent study suggests that the cost of investing in new technology to enable agile working is responsible, but is this telling the whole story? We know that adopting new ways of working is a big deal for businesses, so what exactly is holding businesses back from agile working and what can be done to overcome these challenges?

Enabling technology

Many workers and businesses would love to embrace agile working but outdated technology keeps people chained to their desks. If a business simply doesn’t have the money to equip people with laptops and mobile phones, then a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy could bridge the gap between being desk-based and agile.

It’s not always a simple solution, with consideration to security, but a carefully planned policy can reduce risks and make agile working more affordable. As younger generations continue to enter the workforce with their higher expectations for technology, the need to provide enabling technology and flexibility in how we work will only increase.

To keep people collaborating when they are in different locations, try using a free video conferencing platform like Skype or Google Hangouts, so people can keep connected when they’re away from the office.

Furniture is key to going agile

An agile office needs to provide different types of work settings for people to work from, but you don’t need a complete furniture overhaul to achieve this. Investing in a few key pieces of furniture can support the cultural and behavioural shift associated with agile working. For example, high-backed sofas in an open plan office will reduce the need for meeting rooms, promoting movement and collaboration.

Sit-stand desks encourage people to be more active whilst being naturally receptive to hot desking. High tables for stand-up meetings encourage people to have quicker, more productive meetings whilst making ad-hoc collaboration easier between colleagues. You could also think about investing in furniture that has dual usage like a dining table that can be used for meetings or a ping-pong table that can be used as hot-desk space!

Creating an empowered culture

Some businesses get as far as investing in the technology and workspaces but agile working still doesn’t really take off. The reality is that no matter how ‘empowering’ or beneficial a practice is designed to be, any kind of change is hard. Some people just want to go to the same desk every day. Some managers can’t trust their people to work if they can’t see them.

These are common problems that can be addressed with a thorough change management programme. People need to understand why agile working is being adopted and be involved in the decisions that will shape what agile working looks like in each business. By supporting everyone through the change. you can address concerns as they arise for the best possible result.

It’s an exciting opportunity

Adopting agile working clearly isn’t as simple as the concept first seems. From prohibitive costs through to outdated technology, old-fashioned workspaces and inflexible attitudes, any business wanting to adopt agile working has many factors to consider. That’s why for many businesses, it’s another factor entirely that prompts the move to agile working: Moving office presents a great opportunity to rethink the way a business operates. Because agile working usually requires a lot less space, the money saved can be used to invest in the technology and support needed for the change. If you’re looking to implement an organisational change or agile working in your business, take a look at our office design checklists which can help you to navigate the process!