There are numerous studies and papers, blogs and so on about the benefits and potential drawbacks of adopting agile and flexible working. I am not trying to replicate or supersede what others have said on the subject, however I thought that it might be of interest to put down a few points that we have uncovered while making some changes here at Integra.
The main advantage as I see it of allowing flexibility for the team to work how they prefer, both in terms of location and timing, is that it empowers employees and encourages them to take on responsibility. Much has said about the need for employers trusting employees to work hard, but in reality the days of clocking in and out to try and prove you are performing are long gone in any case, and we should recognise that fact. If trust is lacking then you have some much more fundamental issues than how long someone is sitting at a desk for!
Understanding that time management needs to be centred around task management (and not the other way round) will also logically lead to using that time most efficiently, which may well mean carrying out journeys outside peak hours and perhaps working from home at the beginning or end of a day. Here at Integra we expect the team to keep the office in the loop as to how they are planning their day, but it is entirely their call as to how this is best achieved.
In terms of the office facilities we provide, we are coming to an end of the Phase 1 refurbishment works at Charlton Mead Lane, which has been great fun doing and been a massive boost for team morale. A slightly extended programme has meant we have been able to enjoy seeing it all come together and also get input from across the team as to how they want it to work and appear.
In principle we have moved from isolated pods of desks grouped by team function to open plan bench desking, with plenty of additional meeting space and break-out areas. This has enabled stronger collaboration across the team, and provided a more interactive and rewarding environment. Taking down the dividing walls between Sales and Operations was deeply symbolic!
We now have remote offices located in Werrington and Exeter across the group, and applying the same ethos to these members of the team can be another challenge. However we think that suitable use of technologies such as video conferencing and chat can overcome the physical distances. Perhaps that can be the subject of a future blog post once we have had some more experience.
One of our principal client’s slogans is “Happy people do more!” and we are very glad to be able to put this into practice.