4 Ways to Nurture an Agile Working Environment

woman in a cafe performing agile working

In today’s business climate, the ability to adapt and be agile is more important than ever. The traditional nine-to-five workday is no longer the standard. Employees are increasingly working flexibly and outside of conventional office hours. This challenges managers to create new procedures for productive and efficient work environments.

Increasingly, businesses are choosing to create an agile working environment. An agile workspace embraces recent workplace changes and encourages creativity and collaboration. Recent research into working practices shows that agile teams are 25% more productive and 50% faster to market.

Agile working is key to success in today’s business world. But what does it mean to create an agile working environment? At Cloudbooking, we’ve helped hundreds of businesses adapt to agile working. Our cloud-based booking software allows companies to be more flexible and efficient. To help you create an agile workspace, here are four ways to nurture agile working practices within your organization.

What is Agile Working?

If you’re like most business owners, you’re always looking for ways to optimize your workflow and improve efficiency. If that’s the case, you may have heard of “agile working.” But what is agile working, and how can it help your business?

An agile organization brings people, processes, and technology together to find new ways to complete tasks. It involves working within guidelines for an assignment but removes traditional boundaries to achieve success. This usually involves businesses getting rid of the conventional office space and creating a collaborative space. This space is designed to increase productivity, communication, and efficiency. 

Agile working offers significant benefits to employees and employers. The Agile Future Forum — a group of 22 UK businesses that advocate agile working — states that it generates “significant and tangible economic benefits for our businesses.”

The benefits of agile working for both the employer and employee include:

  • Improves work-life balance and employee satisfaction
  • Boosts productivity and efficiency
  • Increases workplace utilization
  • Better for the environment
  • Nourishes company culture

How is Agile Working Different from Flexible Working?

Flexible working options are an increasingly popular workplace trend and undoubtedly part of the future of workspaces. But where flexible working mainly focuses on giving staff flexibility with working hours, agile working goes further. Agile working finds ways to remove boundaries between staff and goals to make the team as productive and efficient as possible.

This can include: 

  • Job role fluidity — team members aren’t restricted to one specific job. This makes teams more efficient and gives them a more varied and exciting role. 
  • Focus on speed — with team members fulfilling different job roles and less formal rules, each can complete a wider variety of tasks faster.
  • Better technology — agile working spaces use technology like cloud-based booking software to ensure everything is streamlined and efficient. 

How to Support an Agile Work Environment

1. Engender Trust

An agile workplace is a space where a culture of trust thrives. Creating this culture of trust isn’t always easy for businesses, but it’s essential for agile working. Agile working relies on people working in a way that suits them, which means they’re not always at their desks during traditional working hours. 

Since the start of the pandemic, some companies have struggled to trust their team members to work remotely. Leaders micromanaged their entire team to ensure they were actually working. For some, the idea of not working in a traditional office space during nine-to-five working hours was tantamount to slacking off. This idea was perpetuated by the blurring of lines between calls to “get back to the office” andget back to work” as lockdown measures were reduced.

For an agile environment to work, you need to trust your team. One of the best ways to do this is to hire the right people and once they’re up to speed, simply let them do their job. Letting your team get on with their work without looking over their shoulder shows you trust them, which pays dividends for productivity.

Trust and Autonomy — Agile Working at WordPress

Despite resistance from some businesses, many multinational companies are adopting agile working, including Dell and WordPress. WordPress’s model is one of the best examples of an agile working environment with trust at its heart.

WordPress believes in trust and autonomy for its employees to work as efficiently as possible. This is done through an entirely remote workforce where every team member has the opportunity to be productive at any given time with flexible hours to suit their own schedules.

This model ensures that the WordPress team is more productive, but it allows the company to hire from anywhere in the world in any time zone. This means they can get the best talent without any of the traditional restraints of recruitment.

2. Support Cross-Functional Training

The idea of cross-functional training is to create a more varied work environment. This allows employees to embrace new challenges and experiences, helping them grow as individuals while also helping your business reach new heights.

Essentially, cross-functional training gives your team the chance to learn skills and abilities outside of their current roles. By working in a different team or department for a time, they can learn more about the company and develop new skills. 

Agile workplaces are an ideal environment to support cross-functional training. By taking away the restraints of a traditional office, your team can work with any other department or team member and gain new perspectives about the business and its aims.

Shoulder-to-Shoulder Work — Agile Working at Steelcase

Steelcase is an industry leader in testing new ideas and discovering what works best for employees. The latest example was a project where different agile-working concepts were used over time to determine which approaches would lead to better results. One of the standout concepts was cross-functional training and shoulder-to-shoulder work.

The company implemented a staff pairing and cross-functional training program to foster creativity and avoid creative bottlenecks. When people work together, each team member’s knowledge becomes more widespread. This pushes teams to progress by helping them learn what other members know about specific projects or tasks to complete their work more efficiently. This also means there’s often less reliance on someone else if they’re unavailable due to illness or vacation.

3. Create Opportunities for Deep Work

Focusing on a task and getting lost in your work is essential. This state of concentration has been dubbed “deep” because it goes beyond just being aware or thinking clearly while working, to being fully immersed in a task.

“Deep work” was coined by Cal Newport, an associate professor at George Town University. His research found that the most effective workers can stay focused for long periods. This skill is an integral part of being productive and successful in any field, and essential for agile working. 

Using an agile office design is a great way to create opportunities for deep work. Your agile space should have breakout areas, meeting rooms, and designated quiet spaces. This variation of agile workspaces means that when your team wants to get into “deep work,” there is a space to get their heads down.

Meeting-Free Fridays — Agile Working at the University of Strathclyde

It’s not just your office design that can help create opportunities for deep work. You can also develop company-wide policies to give people the chance to concentrate. One of the easiest ways to kill productivity is getting distracted by a message on Microsoft Teams or Slack, reading an email, or having to stop work for a meeting. In fact, it can take 23 minutes to get back into a task after a simple distraction.

The University of Strathclyde recommends avoiding scheduling meetings on Fridays and keeping emails and correspondence minimal. Meeting-free Fridays give teams the chance to get their heads down and nail whatever tasks they’re completing. Plus, nobody enjoys a meeting last thing on a Friday afternoon. 

4. Be Flexible

Before you start getting everybody in the office a new yoga mat, being flexible at work has nothing to do with physical flexibility. An agile work environment is a flexible workspace that goes beyond the current status quo for flexible working.

The best teams are made up of staff able to perform their work at the times and locations that suit them. Business leaders need flexible-working processes to allow employees home-based or offsite hours during non-office periods to enable complete agile collaboration.

By implementing a system where employees can work according to their own schedules and tasks, the company will enjoy far greater productivity. Agile working creates an environment where every team member can thrive — whether they’re an early bird, night owl, or something in-between. By creating this environment, innovation and creativity levels will likely rise alongside staff retention.

Ready to Create an Agile Workplace?

One of the best ways to successfully create an agile workspace is to ensure your business has the right tools and technology. Since the start of the pandemic and the rise of flexible working across all sectors, remote technology has lept forward. Tools like Zoom went from being a tool for external communication to an essential of everyday work.

When it comes to agile working technology, cloud-based workplace management systems are the best option. Cloudbooking software offers several convenient features that help ensure successful agile working environments. Employees can book their desks, meeting rooms, and parking spaces in advance. It also allows employees to locate each other quickly.

But it also allows employers to organize and optimize their agile working environment with live insights and data on productivity. These insights let businesses find new ways to work that benefit their team and their bottom line. Cloud-based technology is also far more economical for companies.

Cloudbooking offers several features to help you with your team’s agile-working practices. We provide solutions that meet all needs and budget requirements. Contact us today for an obligation-free demo

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