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The Power of an Agile Workforce


The Flexible Friend used to be at term used to describe our credit cards. Nowadays it is common practice to purchase things with our cards as opposed to cash, relying on plastic currency has become the norm.


What about the companies and organisations we work for, could they be described as flexible, would you consider your boss a flexible friend?

Attitudes towards flexible or agile working have improved over the years, but have they improved enough and are rigid attitudes actually doing more harm to the performance and productivity of business.


Breaking with Convention

It isn’t only the millennial generation that are wanting to break with convention when it comes to their career and employment choices. All of us have ambitions and aspirations to achieve more in our lives but have precious little time to pursue those dreams. Working the traditional 9-5, 5 days a week, limits any opportunity for this unless you’re content with cramming it into the 2 days at the end of your working week.

Research from flexible working experts Timewise revealed that almost nine in ten (87 per cent) of the UK’s full-time workforce either currently work flexibly or would like to do so. Eight-four per cent of the men surveyed work flexibly or wish to do so compared to 91 per cent of women. Of the 37 per cent of full time workers who do not work flexibly, 64 per cent would prefer to.

Who wants to be considered a blinkered Leader

Rigid inflexible organisations remain blinded to these statistics. Leaders and managers want to be able to increase performance whilst recruiting and retaining the best talent but are bizarrely limiting the pool they can choose from by imposing inflexible working patterns.


Purposeful and Productive

The old adage of if you want something done, give it to a busy person, is certainly apt for those agile workers (compressed, flexible or part time working practices). You have to make your time count - to be efficient and yet effective in the time you have at work. Even for those die-hards who don’t have time for lunch let alone a lunch break - yes I used to be one of those. Your time is limited so impact is everything.


In truth there are times during the working week where time is wasted in meaningless pursuits - endless meetings without much purpose or focus. The agile worker is focused on productivity and performance and to this end, time is precious. It does not detract from the interactions with colleagues or any line management responsibilities, you just ensure that each encounter is purposeful and productive for all concerned.


Is it possible that this enterprising and agile spirit is just what organisations need to breath fresh air into what can sometimes be tired and demotivating work environments.

Cornfields School of Management case study on flexible working relationships identified that in comparison to those on standard working arrangements, flexible workers had significantly higher scores on organisational commitment and job satisfaction.

In addition an employee survey carried out for the CIPD by Kingston University/Ipsos MORI Working life: employee attitudes and engagement 2006 found that ‘workers on flexible contracts tend to be more emotionally engaged, more satisfied with their work, more likely to speak positively about their organisation and less likely to quit’.


Will organisations become the flexible employment friend of the future - to survive they may need to. All the time we require a human workforce within service industries, leaders will need to be more creative in their employment practices to remain relevant in the market.



References:

Flexible working arrangements – shaping UK and international policy (Online) Available at:

https://www.cranfield.ac.uk/som/case-studies/flexible-working


Flexible Working Practices (Online) Available at: https://www.cipd.co.uk/knowledge/fundamentals/relations/flexible-working/factsheet


Jones, R. (2017) Flexible working not just for mothers, says largest ever study of UK workforce. (Online) Available at: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/work/flexible-working-not-just-mothers-says-largest-ever-study-uk/

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