Agile working: it’s about a new approach, not just a new office

Agile working is about more than flexible hours, working from home or having a trendy office with cool sofas and shared desks.

These things alone are not enough to change the way a business and its employees work, says Richard Newton, founder and Commercial Director at architect and interior design business Engine Room.

In an interview with the Eastern Daily Press, Newton said he takes a “management consultancy approach” when planning a new office space, so that it suits the culture and way of working of its occupants.

“Anyone can create a cool office environment but you also need to look at your processes if you want to become truly agile,” Newton explained.

“Management styles have to change – with agile working your team may not always be in the same place every day. Some may be working from home, some may be working on different floors of the office or from the kitchen area.

“You have to develop new types of relationships with employees based on trust.”

At digital agency Manifesto, the company has successfully adopted agile working practices and its Chief Executive, Jim Bowes, highlighted the benefits in a recent article for Civil Society Media.

Agile working is good for the business and for employees, said Bowes. It gives workers the freedom to decide for themselves how to tackle their tasks and how their efforts and skills are directed, fostering an autonomous approach for both teams and individuals.

“You need to give people a chance to direct their own learning and development, while contributing to the direction of the organisation,” Bowes pointed out. “Carving out the space and time required for this means committing to the agile principle of valuing people and interactions over processes and tools, often a significant cultural shift.”

However,¬†agile working doesn’t work for every business, Richard Newton acknowledged.

“Companies need to have a business model that can respond to these changes.”

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