“Trust me with my time, trust me to do my job, and I’ll deliver results, and be a happier employee too” (Ressler & Thompson, 2008)
With many businesses looking at ways to maintain productivity and enable employees to continue working in the midst of a pandemic, Agile Working is a hot topic.
Here at Chwarae Teg we work with organisations of all sizes and sectors to help them develop their working practices. Below are some frequently asked questions about agile working that might be useful if you’re currently reviewing your own systems and policies.
If you have a specific query feel free to message us at AN2@chwaraeteg.com and we’ll do our best to help.
To access ongoing, tailored support for your business’s specific needs we run various programmes and training sessions that are accessible for organisations of all sizes and offered free of charge to Welsh SMEs through EU funding.
What exactly is results-based/agile working?
In a nutshell Results-Based Working – also known as agile working – aims to increase productivity by giving employees the freedom to work in the manner that suits them best as long as they deliver agreed outcomes.
At Chwarae Teg we developed, piloted and implemented our own agile working system in 2015, which we call “Achieve”. Every staff member is issued with a laptop and mobile phone, we hotdesk when we’re in the office with no desktop computers or direct landlines.
For us work is very much an activity and not a location, with a focus on action and results – not time spent in the office. It’s a very empowering approach for staff, and it means the business carries on as normal when other organisations are affected by snow, floods and now in the face of the Coronavirus.
How does it work?
Agile Working is an informal arrangement that enables a better work-life balance. It can be used for short term changes to normal working patterns, sometimes just for a one-off event, and is not the same as Flexible working which is enshrined in legislation.
You measure team members by their performance, results or output, not by their presence in the office or the hours that they work. You give them complete autonomy over their projects, and you allow them the freedom to choose when and how they will meet their goals.
We already offer flexible working, how is this different?
Agile working is not the same as having flexible hours, core hours or the Right to Request legislation which works on the assumption that an employee wants to work in a different way to the organisational ‘norm’.
- A formal flexible working request usually involves a permanent change to terms of employment.
- Offering core or flexible working hours measures inputs not outcomes ie it still focusses on the hours worked which can lead to “presenteeism”.
Agile Working depends on a high degree of trust between the organisation & the individual to achieve outcomes. It’s not just about being nice to your staff. It’s about being very clear about objectives and expectations:
- Works on the assumption that work is what we do not a place we go
- A system of working to suit the business and individual needs according to requirements.
- The focus is always on achieving agreed outcomes
What benefits can this offer my business?
The advantages organisations gain from results-based working include both hard and soft measures, and can ultimately benefit your bottom line:
- Diverse, inclusive talent recruitment & retention – be seen as an employer of choice, get the best talent and reduce recruitment costs
- Business Outcomes – reduce the gender pay gap, and benefit through improved performance and results from your teams.
- Employee engagement and loyalty – employees are more likely to be flexible for the organisation (for example, changing their working hours when the need arises), and show more loyalty.
- Enhanced work performance – Increased productivity and better quality of work, more efficient ways of working, employees can organise and manage their workload better.
- Avoiding negative employee outcomes – Help avoid work-related stress, and reduce sickness absence.
- Positive work culture – Giving staff a say gives them autonomy and responsibility. This starts a buzz among teams and enables streamlining, higher morale, progression and increased focus. People appreciate the flexibility and deliver more effective and efficient outcomes.
One of our FairPlay Employer clients, the Intellectual Property Office, developed and implemented a results-based working pilot which they called “Output not Hours”.
- Key outcomes of the “Output not Hours” pilot included:
- Positive impact on staff wellbeing
- Measurable reduction in sick leave
- Maintained – and in some areas increased – productivity
IPO’s key learnings:
- The trial wasn’t implemented without hurdles and challenges – but the learnings gained enabled them to find solutions that worked for their organisation.
- They found that high levels of engagement and communication with staff and managers were required in order to provide clear guidance.
- Setting very clear short and long term objectives is also vital, which may be more work for managers at the beginning.
- Initially, teams found short-term objectives were difficult to set. However, in time teams and managers became adept at setting realistic objectives.
- At the 6 month point 74% felt they were able to set realistic short-term objectives, and at the 11-month mark this increased to 92%.
For IPO the outcome was that this was a successful way of working that maintained (or increased) output, resulting in the system being offered to staff as an additional flexible working option.
If you would like to discuss this or any other aspect of your business with us, we are here to help.
Our team of Business Partners have a wealth of expertise on this and other key areas which can benefit your business. Our EU funded Agile Nation2 programme provides up to 42 hours free consultancy for businesses with up to 250 employees, and our FairPlay Employer Programme is available for larger organisations.
Email AN2@chwaraeteg.com to start the ball rolling.