The art of implementing agile working


At its core, agile working acts as the tools for removing obstacles so that employees can work more proficiently.

Agile working has been used by startups and businesses alike for a while now but it acts as quite an umbrella term so defining it can be difficult. At its core, agile working acts as the tools for removing obstacles so that employees can work more proficiently.

What agile working practices doesn’t mean, as many seem to relate it to, is rocking out of bed at ten past eleven, stumbling over to your laptop in your pyjamas and typing ten words while simultaneously watching last night’s episode of Big Brother. So, don’t worry. By implementing flexibility, you won’t lose any staff to the void.

In this day and age, maintaining a five day a week 9-5 desk job can be difficult. In this recent study it shows that 87% of the UK’s full-time workforce would benefit and would want flexible working hours. Agile working practices combine time and place flexibility but can also focus on the performance of employees and outcomes of tasks.

As a matter of fact, agility is more than working in a different way but is actually down to being and behaving differently. It’s about utilising the benefits gained from changing work practices to deploy new technology and creating new and better work environments.

However, with agile working, there is no one size fits all, though it has recurring themes, it is completely down to the individual and their choices of what, how, where, and when.

Types of Agile working practices:

·      Flexible hours (half days, early finishes, etc.)

·      Flexible working days

·      Working from home (digital workplace)

·      Autonomy (flexibility to reach goals set by managers)

What are the benefits to a startup of implementing an agile work environment? Well, there are many, here are five:

1. Increased productivity

People will always want access to the ways of working that enable them to do their best. That’s obvious. Startups that maintain a good reputation as employers project that idea on to their staff. If the employees are given the opportunity to work in a way that suits them best, they will be more willing to give you their all and produce quality content.

2.     It’s cost-effective

let’s be honest, the cost of office space is expensive. With real-estate prices soaring, as a startup, you want to save all the money that you can. Forking out for empty desks and chairs and large office space is unproductive. The introduction of agile working frees up office space and gives you more of a budget for other work purposes that might not currently be catered for. (giant gin fountain in the break room, anyone?)

3.     Reduce your carbon footprint.

It’s time to start saving the world. Agile working in startups can be deployed to make better use of space assets. This greatly improves ethical sustainability while also reducing cost as well as both the individuals and startups carbon footprint. Allowing a portion of working from home as part of agile working supports the reduction of car/train/bus journeys and in turn, results in a greener and less detrimental world. Save the world. You’ll thank us later.

4.     Attract and keep talent

People who are given flexibility and choice in the workplace feel appreciated. Parents that need to stay home and people with conditions that stop them from traveling as well as many others will be more loyal if they know that their needs are being taken care of.

5.     Trusting culture

By allowing staff to have the freedom they may need, you are in turn implementing a trusting work culture where your employees will respect you. If you have an agile environment, then you have fewer limitations. You can accommodate variations in staff numbers and respond to the way different people prefer to work.

In short, agile workplaces enable employees to make use of an environment that caters to their needs. Embracing an agile move means that startups are protecting themselves in the face of future challenges.

However, once you have committed to making use of agile practices, the next logical step is learning how to implement these associated working arrangements. But don’t worry, it’s not as daunting or complicated as you may think. Here are five golden rules for applying agile working practices:

1. Creating a trial period

Offering staff a trial period of a month is a good way to test the waters and evaluate each other’s trust. It takes away the need for a member of staff to feel apologetic and offers them the chance to see how different ways of agile working could benefit them in the long run. This, in turn, develops trust between you and your employee, by giving them free-rein to work independently.

2. Understand the needs of both the business and the workforce

Begin with a clear idea of your startups objectives. Use this to develop a view of your ideal workforce. Then, work out how agility can help to achieve both. Understand what it is that your employees value and then work alongside them to develop a plan of agile practices. By considering the value of both the employer and employee, you end up with a balanced and effective outcome.

3. Develop a helpful way of communication

Communication when dealing with agile practices can be tricky. The Internet doesn’t always work and phone calls can be slow and hard to hear when you’re constantly on the move. Find a system that all of your employees can communicate through and stick to it. Find a list of helpful workplace communication tools at the bottom of the article.

4. Focus on the ‘soft side’ of change

Ultimately, agility requires administrative change. This is best delivered via individual departments. As a startup, your base may not be huge, but implementing small changes rather than overnight-company-wide shifts is a lot less overwhelming and easier to handle no matter your size.

5. Educate leadership first

The attitude of management can sometimes cause a barrier when introducing agile working practices. Getting senior members of staff on board first and foremost is a vital move. Educate those around you on reasoning and benefits.

Implementing new agile working practices can be complicated, but the benefits of an agile startup are worthwhile; you’ll be left with employees that trust and appreciate you as well as a better performing and more engaged workforce.

Handy workplace communication tools:

a.     Slack       (Real-time chat, video calls, integration systems)

b.     Skype          (Video and audio chat, messaging)

c.     Fleep           (Uses team chat, video, voice calling and task management)

d.     Rocket Chat    (Video and audio chat, screen sharing and translation)

e.     Flow Dock   (1:1 conversation, group chats, threads, video calling)