Agile Working – An Innovative Concept For Businesses?


The Law Of… Modernising The Way We Work 

Emerging as much more than a new trend within employment law, agile working is proving to be a key factor in the growth and success of some businesses.

Kimberley Jackson, Trainee Solicitor in Employment Law, takes a look at how businesses are benefitting from this more flexible way of working.

What Is Agile Working?

Whilst many people think that agile working and flexible working are interchangeable, the reality is they both have different purposes.

When an employee makes a flexible working request, it's their responsibility to consider how a new working arrangement could work for them and the business.

Moving away from traditional ideas of working, agile working gives employees more flexibility in where, when, and how they do their job. It takes the needs of employees into account whilst also ensuring that business needs are also met.

Technology plays a major role in the success of agile working, as it enables employees to complete their tasks from various locations whilst also remaining connected to their colleagues.

What Are The Benefits Of Agile Working For Employers?

Although the thought of introducing agile working into your business might seem concerning, there are a lot of advantages – agile working can:

  • Reduce absenteeism
  • Increase productivity levels
  • Help your business reduce its carbon footprint
  • Lower property costs for unused property
  • Attract new talent and have a positive impact on staff retention
  • Increase profits

How Does Agile Working Benefit Employees?

Some of the benefits of agile working for employees include:

  • Reducing the amount of time and money spent on travelling to and from work
  • Improving their productivity by removing distractions and increasing their level of concentration
  • Creating a healthier work-life balance and decreasing levels of stress

Agile Working In Practice

Agile working might sound good in theory, but how have agile workers performed in the workplace following a change in their working patterns?

When BT introduced agile working, it found that:

  • Absenteeism went down by 63%
  • Employees working flexibly were around 20% more productive than colleagues working in offices – this was measured by metrics such as absenteeism, sick leave, and maternity leave rates
  • It had a lower carbon footprint
  • Significant savings were made with teleconferencing instead of holding face-to-face meetings
  • Property costs decreased by 30%

PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) also noted a positive impact after it introduced agile working:

  • Costs per person decreased by 41%, falling from £5,780 to £3,400
  • Recruitment and staff retention rates improved, with only 12% of staff asking to leave in one year
  • PwC was also voted the UK's first 'graduate employer of choice'

What Are The Drawbacks To Agile Working?

Whilst there are many advantages to agile working, there are some pitfalls that employers need to be aware of.

In order for it to be successful, employers need to:

  • Have sufficient IT measures in place, such as good security and remote access to systems, to enable staff to work efficiently
  • Monitor staff engagement levels, ensuring that colleagues are in regular contact with one another – you could, for example, hold weekly meetings that staff need to attend in person
  • Manage projects and team communication effectively

How Does This Impact Existing Flexible Working Regulations?

Coming into effect in 2014, the Flexible Working Regulations enabled employees to formally ask their employers for flexible working arrangements, such as parents asking for a change to their working hours.

Employers also have a legal obligation to consider and make a decision about any request they receive within a 3-month time frame.

Even though there's been an increase in the uptake of agile working, the existing regulations in relation to flexible working seem to be suitable at this point in time.

How Can Simpson Millar's Employment Solicitors Help My Business?

The success that businesses are enjoying from adopting agile working shows that it is a useful method and there's potential for other employers to benefit from more open approaches to working.

If you're curious about whether agile working is suitable for your business, our employment solicitors can offer you advice and help introduce new methods of working into your business.

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