I came across a dictionary definition of ‘Agile’ the other day:
“Characterised by quickness, lightness, resourcefulness and adaptability, and ease of movement”
It’s interesting that these are exactly the notions that arise when the question is, “What is Agile Working?”
Wise and experienced people respond “it’s characterised by flexible hours, hot-desking or home working”. But they can find it difficult to define it in concrete terms.
But isn’t that the point? To define ‘Agile Working’ is to be dogmatic and inflexible when ‘Agile working’ is intrinsically about individuality and originality, independence and interdependence.
A good starting point for a definition may be “New times and new places of working”. But it’s interesting to read that Tameside MBC named their programme ‘Working Differently’.
Adding that element to my definition brings me to “New ways of working, in chosen different places, at chosen different times and probably with different people (at least for some of the time)”.
But whatever the definition, the pace of connectivity means that ‘Agile Working’ is no longer a marginal idea. It has become the pursuit of many.
The rate of change required to stay competitive is certainly faster than staff turnover. This means L&D professionals have a key role to play in helping people develop the personal skills necessary to work agilely, and to help managers with the tools and techniques required. Without these foundations, it’s easy to envisage the twin spectres of inflexible rigidity or random chaos descending on an organisation.
A Fresh Approach
One thing is certain. ‘Agile Working’ cannot be about leaving behind everything that has gone before. It’s much more about having the chance to look at things in a wholly fresh way – IT is a great enabler of course, but so too is flexible working legislation.
Add in attracting talent, reducing costs, environmental benefits and perhaps we have got our sought-after definition of ‘Agile Working’ after all.
“New and cost-effective ways of working with flexible and widely connected IT, in chosen different places at chosen different times of the day and probably with a range of different, multi-talented people.”
Do let me know what you think.
Nigel Walpole, MD, Bray Leino Learning
In my series of blogs I’ll talk through my thoughts on some of the key issues facing managers in the workplace - lessons learnt, tips for success and general musings.
Copyright © 2014 Bray Leino Learning