The Agile Revolution: a hammer blow to 9-5 work?

by PM Today Staff / 10/13/2017 10:59:45 AM

Global recruiters, BPS World, together with change management experts and futurologists believe that working 9-5 in an office for one employer is dying out in some sectors and for some workers as the benefits of agile working become better understood. 

‘The Agile Revolution’, published today by BPS World, is informed by new quantitative and qualitative research that shows that organisations that introduce agile working improve productivity, save on costs and find it much easier to recruit. 

One of the contributors is William Higham, a futurologist and founder of NextBigThing. He explained why: “The majority of Britons are wandering around with their mobile phones at weekends, they might be sending emails, looking up their local cinema to see what films they could watch on a Saturday night, or they could be shopping from the comfort of their sofa. Everything they do is mobile and has no time constraint.

"Come Monday morning, they go into their place of work to be greeted by a fixed computer, a fixed phone, and fixed hierarchy. This doesn’t make sense when we no longer live in a fixed world.  The traditional workplace set-up isn’t aligned with the way we live our lives; we are used to living agile so working that way comes naturally.”

The quantitative research for the book was conducted among company bosses and employees, and show that attitudes towards the ‘traditional’ way of working are shifting. Just over a third of working Britons (38%) now see the office as an essential base to work from the majority of the time, with just over quarter of bosses (26%) thinking the same. 

In fact, 10% of the bosses surveyed go so far as to say that the office is ‘an outdated concept’ in their industry. Whilst BPS World recognise that agile working does not suit many sectors or individuals, the global rise in agile working, at the same time as a rise in skills shortages, means that it is essential for all employers to understand it and how it could impact on their sector. 

The book highlights the fact that our current way of working only goes as far back as far as the industrial revolution. Before that time everyone worked in an agile way, there were no offices or factories and workers were judged on outcomes, not how long they spent ‘at work’, which typically happened in or around the home.

Employers already offering agile working were surveyed by as part of the research. 43% said their organisation is between 6-10% more productive thanks to agile working, and 10% even felt their organisation’s productivity was boosted by an impressive 20% because of it. 

Most importantly, they reported that it is easier to attract talented employees; in total, 84% say it’s easier to hire skilled staff, and none reported that agile working makes it more difficult to do so.  

‘The Agile Revolution’ details benefits for employers (in addition to recruitment and retention), such as increased productivity and reduced carbon footprint and gives practical advice.  It also explores the potential pitfalls and challenges.

Simon Conington, Founder and MD of BPS World advised: “Agile working should not be just seen as employee perk; we found that agile working benefits employers in some unexpected ways. However, skills shortages are affecting the ability of employers to operate, and these will be made worse by Brexit.

"Many employees regard agile working as a very attractive option and any organisation offering it is likely to find it much easier to bring on board the skills and talent they need. We hope that the book will help employers understand both why they should consider it and how to go about it if they decide it is appropriate for them.”

The Agile Revolution:  A guide for business on agile working is available from Amazon as an eBook. 

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