The irony of this article, dear reader, is that I am writing it off the back of a rather time-pushed early morning. There are numerous culprits for this, not least the lady who spent a good ten to fifteen minutes holding up the queue for Oyster card top-ups because she couldn’t work the machine. I think that sinking feeling that the world is conspiring to disrupt one’s daily routine is familiar to everyone. However, perhaps that feeling has a slightly lesser impact in the era of genuine flexitime.
In truth, the idea of flexible working arrangements has existed for many years, but it has historically depended on stringent pre-planning of meetings, presentations, teamwork endeavours and so on. The growing popularity of agile working technology is now creating a new normal in the workplace, where the word flexitime takes on a more modern meaning. A meaning that arguably better befits the hammy business buzzword.
Flexitime And Agile Working
The two terms naturally go hand-in-hand in the modern business climate, but they have classically not quite been the same thing. Flexitime simply refers to a system where work timings can be dictated by the individual employee – usually negotiated with management, and largely thought of as an exceptional circumstance. Most businesses will allow for this simple arrangement in their own way.
The term is now being redefined by the phenomenon of agile working, which takes the form of a long-term, overarching business strategy. It is a scheme whereby staff are granted the trust to construct their own working routines, in terms of where, when and how they complete their duties. The theory is that this allows each employee to optimally balance their own individual working requirements, but also remain in keeping with the business’ needs by maintaining consistent communication and collaboration. Ultimate flexitime, one might say.
How Does Agile Working Work?
The first step towards creating a modern agile working environment is recognising that it is a company-wide scheme. All departments should be in accordance, and managers need to accept a shift in their responsibility. They are still leaders, but in the sense of facilitators rather than overseers. With agile working, the more that autonomy can be dispersed, the better for everybody.
The second step is ensuring that the appropriate technology is in place to enable this strategy to happen. This means creating a virtualised, integrated device network that employees can engage with using their own personal laptops, tablets and mobiles. To achieve this, a business’ data must be centralised on a cloud-based desktop that can be securely accessed via an internet connection. This allows users to retrieve the files they need from anywhere in the world, using any device – and at any time they need. Remember: flexitime.
Finally, agile working requires an office design that supports such a strategy. Perhaps the best template for this is the hybrid plan that many co-working spaces now operate. The core of the office is an open-plan hot-desking area, but features social areas and smaller individual working spaces for the appropriate occasions. In addition, providing staff with office hardware that they can engage with, such as cutting-edge audio-visual technology or augmented reality, give staff more reason to maintain a connection with their workplace.
Is It Worth The Trouble?
And here we come back to this central theme of time. Smart agile working is an ideal measure to eliminate business activities which are a waste of money. It allows staff to form their own working patterns, under basic guidelines set out by managers. The strategy also means that no valuable time has to be lost because of an absence from the office. That absentee can remain in touch socially and virtually. Staff, in deference to flexitime principles, can adapt to problematic circumstances at short notice and carry on with their work. In short, it’s business as usual whatever happens.
Moreover, evidence suggests that a strategy which mobilises and trusts staff benefits the wider business. Such boons emerge in the form of higher individual and collective employee output, and lower office expenses. In the long-term, a business can expect higher staff morale, a long-term technological foundation, more productive collaboration and even a lower carbon footprint. It frees up employees, giving them liberty to work in the ways, and at the times, that suit them – and business owners reap the benefits too. Flexitime has historically been a luxury in office culture. Technological advances and new social principles are laying the groundwork for a new workplace culture, one with flexitime right at its heart.
Viastak work to support businesses looking to leverage technology, in order to streamline the way they operate. We believe in creating flexible, dynamic enterprises that are equipped to deal with the demands of the modern global economy. To find out more, please get in touch.