What is an agile working environment?

Here, we explore why 70 per cent of organisations predicted to adopt flexible working by 2020?

Agile working creates an efficient business environment by giving employees the freedom and flexibility to work in different areas of an office, or remotely via hot-desking, when and how they choose. With less constraints and more flexibility, the focus is more about performance and quality and less about where tasks are undertaken. Instant Offices have taken a closer look into agile working:

What is agile working?

By looking at work as an activity, rather than a place, agile working focuses on eliminating any barriers that stand in the way of achieving objectives. Seventy per cent of organisations are predicted to adopt some sort of flexible working by 2020 and agile working is at the heart of this transition to a more adaptable way of viewing the workplace.

Benefits of agile working

Improved quality of working relationships, both internal and client-facing
Reduced costs
Increased productivity
Talent acquisition and retention

In recent years, the demand for more flexible ways of working has increased, and the Manpower Group’s workspace research shows quite definitively that 79 per cent of employees want the option at their current company and this number is even higher among younger generations of workers.

Research by the Agile Future Forum (AFF) found that agile working practices saved 3 -13 per cent of workforce costs, with the potential to increase that from three per cent to seven per cent where agile working practices were implemented more considerably. The AFF also shared a case study which saw the productivity of Black Horse Finance’s new business and fleet operations department grow ten per cent following the introduction of agile working; colleague engagement also rose by seven per cent.

Flexible working options

  • Agile working is just one of the ways that employers are offering more flexibility in today’s office environments. By introducing agility to their team and workspace, businesses:
  • Give employees the freedom to work in the best location, utilising their time and resources most efficiently
  • Reduce the amount of time spent travelling, by not having to always return to your desk to work productively
  • Employ recent technological developments into the office to improve efficiency and creativity, e.g. individually kitted-out workspaces for specific work needs, like brainstorm and presentation rooms
  • Allow individuals and teams to work closely with one another, improving cross-collaboration on tasks
  • Give workers the freedom to develop new, non-traditional working practices, that can improve the way the business operates, e.g. by spending less time in the office, teams have more time to spend with their clients
  • Encourage team work in a more open, collaborative space – which does wonders for communication and trust across the team too

There are other ways for employers to ensure that their agile working environment improves office efficiency, that doesn’t include working in traditional leased office space:

Serviced offices

A serviced office is, a furnished and fully-equipped pay-as-you-use space within a building managed by an operator. Operators rent single offices or whole floors out to businesses, giving them access to fully-operational office space on flexible terms. This allows a business the flexibility to scale easily.

Co-working spaces

The open plan, shared environment of a co-working or flexible office spaces gives a business all the benefits of a fully established office without any of the hidden costs of traditional office space and enables employees to work at desks anywhere in the world.

What does an agile working environment include?

Common amenities in an agile working environment
Regular working:

Regular meeting:
Brainstorm area (small)
Informal meeting space (large)

Formal meeting:
Audio-visual rooms
Video-conferencing rooms
Glass meeting rooms

Production areas:
Photocopy room
Designated phone call area
Private booths
Area for short-term activity

Outdoor lunch bench set-up and relaxation area
Bar area

Business Benefits of agile working

Agile working isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ theory, but can unlock value for both the employer and the employee, and with occupier enquiries for flexible workspace having increased 20 per cent year-on-year across the UK in 2016, it’s clear that more businesses are interested in alternatives to traditional office space.

Employees love agile working because it allows them to be more creative and focused and Powwownow’s research shows it, with 70 per cent of workers viewing a job with flexible working options as more attractive than one with a traditional environment. Research also shows that 30 per cent of employees would choose a flexible working environment over a pay rise.

Further reading on agile working

Owen Gough, SmallBusiness UK

Owen Gough

Owen was a reporter for Bonhill Group plc writing across the Smallbusiness.co.uk and Growthbusiness.co.uk titles before moving on to be a Digital Technology reporter for the Express.co.uk.

Related Topics

Agile working

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