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Creating new ways of working – agile

How is agile working different to other ways of working?

Our workplace has just started the process of embracing more agile ways of working. That includes hot desking, working in smaller more agile teams and ridding the workplace of paper. However, with data breaches and identity theft on the rise many people are becoming less trustworthy of technology. One study shows the technology sector is lagging 14% points behind in performance versus importance when its comes to public trustworthiness.

All this makes it easy for people to want to hang onto old ways of working. Why trust in technology that might lose or compromise your data? It’s the reason why firms like Iron Mountain will be as important as Microsoft and Apple in providing data storage solutions that reassure firms and employees alike. In fact, their role is essential in unlocking new ways of working.

Firms like Deloitte are at the forefront of exploring new ways in which they can help employees and their clients work together in a more collaborative fashion. As Tom Declercq, one of their partners has said, “Increasingly, work is no longer about where you go, but about what you do and the impact you make.” And whilst too many of their agility stories focus on ‘being with the children’, they are embracing agile working as a way to be more collaborative, effective, inspired and innovative. Collaborative across borders and within teams; more effective for when the individual feels like being effective (i.e. when that idea comes to you at 1:00 am in the morning and you can’t get it out of your head); more inspired by the space and the facilities within it (both seamless IT and the foosball table); and more innovative, by putting like-minded and unlike-minded people together.

How to change your ways of working

But all this requires a mindset shift and it is incredibly hard for people to let go of old ways of working. It’s understandable that people will want to hang onto the desk, the paper, the routine. That means you have to both be patient with people as well as cajole and encourage them to let go of the edge and swim towards new approaches to the employee experience.

To my mind, there are three things a business can do to shift mindset. First, try introducing technology solutions first – things like MS Teams and Yammer. These collaborative digital solutions start to get teams working more transparently. Next, make sure your leaders set expectations and demonstrate agile working methods first. If the MD isn’t agile, then others will not follow. HBR has identified expectation setting as one of its four traps for leaders. And last, get the early adopters involved in shaping ongoing changes to the workplace – i.e. make sure agile working is democratised. In fact, there’s evidence that it improves employee health and wellbeing as well as creating workspaces and practices that help people blend their work and social lives – something that will be increasingly important to millennials and generation Z.

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