60% of workers will spend more time out of the office than in it by 2020, according to Mitie’s Executive Research Programme. The agile office of the future will be more attractive as an employer, which in turn means it’s more likely to be more successful as a business.
But is there any such thing as agile utopia? There are many things holding organisations back and creating a disconnect between their agile aspirations and reality, and although many companies have recognised the need to adapt their workplaces, they face challenges in transforming the style, operation and presentation of their workplace.
So what approach should senior IT managers take when looking to create a successful agile working environment? Here are four secrets to agile working success:
1 - IT is not the only key
From an IT decision maker’s perspective, the focus is often on the technical tools and solutions available to support digital transformation and futuristic work models.
However, although IT remains a core element in creating the successful office of the future, it’s not the only thing to consider. Nor are IT professionals the only stakeholders; in many organisations, they increasingly need to work with a variety of business decision makers such as accounts, facilities or HR in order to deliver.
Organisations should have the three Ts at the front of their mind - technology, transparency and trust - when moving to a business that is fit for the future.
2 - Collectively change mindsets
Whatever the drivers of flexible working are, businesses can only reap the full benefits if the prevalent cultures and preconceptions are challenged, along with people management and working practices.
For flexible working to really benefit both the organisation and the employees, there needs to be a strong element of trust, both that employees working from home really are working, and that the manager will allow them to get on with the job in hand. This results in a smarter, more agile approach to working that focuses on achievements and results.
3 - Relevance for the many, not the few
Business leaders should be cautious about trusting just one group’s opinion to ensure organisations remain relevant for most, if not all of its employees. It shouldn’t be necessary to lean over backwards for a specific group of people, for example going to great lengths to attract millennials.
An open, collaborative culture where each person is encouraged and trusted, combined with strong management ensuring that these ideas lead to a fully holistic approach creates a win-win situation.
4 - The value of trust
Ultimately, trust remains something that is earned, not given, and organisations should pay attention to this as it applies to both sides of the agile working equation.
It is about recognising the value that motivated and trusted employees can deliver versus the value that is lost through a rigid and often archaic approach to work.
Agile working is here to stay, and provides a firm foundation for long-term organisational success by improving staff motivation and productivity, whilst also delivering savings in operational costs.
But while it heralds a brave new world for organisations and employees, its adoption is being hindered by concerns about loss of productivity and management control. In reality, with a properly managed and executed plan, the opposite outcome is achieved.