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Agile Working: Using IT to Improve Work-Life Integration

NCC Guidelines - Volume 4 - Number 3 

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‘Flexible working’ – which is work that takes place at different times and locations to the traditional nine-to-five office-based tradition – is highly popular. According to Microsoft’s New world of work for business decision makers 2012 survey, 90% of UK businesses now allow flexible working.

But flexible working (which typically uses the same processes and practices as normal work but outside normal working hours and/or at different locations) is not agile working. So how is ‘agile’ different?

Let’s start from the definition of physical agility: the ability to move nimbly with speed and ease. This definition can also be applied to an organisation that adopts agile working. Likewise, at the individual level, staff engaged in agile working show similar mental agility, flexibility of mind, and a tendency to anticipate or adapt to uncertain or changing situations.

In his paper on agile working for the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (www.rics.org/propertyintheeconomy), Paul Winter defines organisational agility as the ability to change routines without resistance.

So based on these definitions, the term ‘agile working’ could be applied to any new office-based ways of working. But most uses of the term imply that some form of flexible working is also taking place, at least some of the time, away from the traditional office environment. Agile working implies trade-offs for employees and employers.

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