What is Agile Working?
Agile working is a mindset and a philosophy for employees in the workplace. This way of flexible working is an approach to work that prioritizes collaboration, adaptability, and continuous improvement.
Agile working tries to employ a mindset change within the company so that employees are free to work in a way that suits them and the project that they are working on.
An agile working model is one in which the workplace prompts a mindset of flexibility and adaptation. Employees in an agile workplace can manage times and places of work by using their own autonomy or inline with their current projects needs.
Where does agile working come from?
Agile working originates in the software development industry. Dating back to the early 2000s the principal creators of the agile methodology created the “Agile manifesto” which outlines the values and principles that guide “agile software development”. With the implementation of superfast communication networks both in our homes and in our workplaces, agile working became a methodology that other workplaces could now adopt.
What is the Agile Working Methodology?
The agile methodology is a way of working that prioritizes flexibility and adaptation, using the right people and the right resources to complete a specific task with no or very little boundaries. The methodology is based on the agile principles, some of which are:
- Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
- Responding to change over following a plan
Agile Working Examples
Agile development had great success with its roots in the software development industry in the early 2000s. Now in the early 2020s, agile is a firm favourite amongst a lot of different industries outside of software.
Finance – Workers in the finance industry constantly have to make decisions as a team. Agile working allows the process of lending approval, risk management, fraud detection, planing and compliance to be faster and more efficient. Using agile In the finance industry, workers break projects down into smaller tasks, so the whole team can be focused on one specific part of the project at each time. Cross-functional teams are often incorporated into tasks, and continuous monitoring and testing of the teams ensures optimal efficiency.
Marketing – Collaboration of ideas is one of the most important aspects of a successful marketing strategy. Ideas and creativity based industries often find success with agile working, as it allows the creatives they employ to not be set to any strict times or days. This allows freedom for employees to be creative on their own terms, which ultimately transfer into more effective and creative campaigns.
Healthcare – The National Office Programme at NHS Property Services has implemented agile working in their 400 office holdings, achieving £75 million in savings for the NHS over a five-year period. By empowering staff to work where, when and how they choose, the programme aims to improve working environments and support staff productivity and wellbeing while also driving efficiencies and cost savings.
Agile Working Scrum
Agile working has a number of different frameworks such as Kanban, lean XP and Scrum. Scrum is an agile working framework that companies can follow to better manage their projects. The scrum framework encourages daily ‘scrums’ where collaborators will get together to discuss a project that they are working on. The term ‘scrum’ comes from rugby, where play is reset after minor infractions. The scrum process breaks up large projects into small incremental chunks which are constantly reviewed, this helps teams get projects out to clients and customer’s faster.
Agile Working Principles
The 4 core principles of agile working for any industry are:
- Prioritizing individuals and interactions over processes and tools
- Focusing on working products or solutions over comprehensive documentation
- Encouraging customer collaboration and feedback over contract negotiation
- Being open to change and adapting to new requirements throughout the project.
Implementing these principles in the workplace takes the form of regular check-ins and adjustments to ensure that the team is meeting its goals and that any obstacles are identified and addressed in a timely manner.
How to Introduce Agile Working
To introduce agile working in a workplace, you should first think of which framework best matches the needs of the projects your employees will be working on. The scrum framework we mentioned before is best suited to software, project management and IT. Kanban, another agile framework, is best suited to manufacturing and supply chain logistics.
Once you have identified the framework that best suits your organization, it’s important to communicate the change to all employees and ensure that they understand the benefits and how it will affect their daily work. It’s also important to provide training and support to help employees adapt to the new way of working. Additionally, it’s crucial to have a clear plan and set of guidelines in place to ensure that the transition to agile working is smooth and successful. Regular reviews and plan adjustments are needed to ensure that the new way of working remains effective and beneficial for the organization.
Benefits of Agile Working
Agile working benefits a workplace by implementing a culture change and a mindset change for employees. Breaking tasks into smaller tasks and allowing multidisciplinary communication, collaboration and frequent progress reviews increases productivity and generates fewer errors in the project flow. The flexibility of an agile working methodology can increase employee satisfaction whilst also increasing both creativity and productivity.
The way in which employees are measured by their contributions to the team instead of the hours worked helps bring a sense of ownership and pride to the work that they do. The mindset change of agile working encourages experimentation and calculated risks. Overall, the benefits of agile working have been shown to increase productivity in some cases by over 40% whilst also increasing innovation, collaboration and employee satisfaction.