All about Agility in the workplace 

For many years, the world of work moved fairly slowly. Although various new innovations had major impacts in various sectors, on the whole, industries looked the same year after year. Over the last two decades however, things couldn’t have been more different. Changing technologies, evolving consumer demand and emerging markets have caused all industries to change beyond recognition in just a few years.

Keeping up with these changes, and adapting working practices, services and products to suit evolving environments, has become increasingly important. Companies and individuals that are able to understand and react to these changes quickly and effectively have a much higher chance of staying ahead of the competition and making the most of the evolving landscape.

If you’re trying to make your company more agile, or adapt your own personal working practices so you’re better able to respond to the ever-changing business landscape, understanding the fundamental principles of agility will help you to achieve your goals. Keep reading to find out more.

What is agility in the workplace?

 Agility in the workplace refers to a company’s capacity to gather information about changing customer demand, trends or technologies and use this information to improve working practices. The quicker and more effectively these changes can be introduced, the more likely it is that the company will achieve its professional goals.

As well as helping companies stay up to date with the modern business landscape, agility helps to ensure customers receive an ever-improving service and that their needs continue to be met. This can help to enhance the overall customer experience and help businesses to retain valuable clients for even longer.

How to measure agility?

Working out the agility of a company isn’t always easy, especially if there aren’t any comparable firms in the market place. One of the best ways to test agility is to talk to employees. The people on the forefront of implementing changing policies are generally best placed to judge how a company is responding to the current environment.

In fact, in order for a company to be agile, communication between decision makers and frontline employees needs to flow freely at all times. This helps new ideas to be heard and ensures new trends are spotted the minute they begin to emerge.

Are UK companies agile?

 A recent Gallup poll took a closer look at the perceived agility of UK-based companies. Employees were asked to give their level of agreement in response to two statements. First: In my company, we have the right mindset to respond quickly to business needs. And second: In my company, we have the right tools and processes to respond quickly to business needs.

The results of the poll showed that just 13% of UK workers believed their company was agile, while 34% believed their employer was partly agile and 53% said the business they worked for wasn’t agile at all.

This shows that there’s a lot of room for improvement in the UK business landscape. Businesses that want to raise their level of agility have a number of tools and methods to choose from. These range from implementing new business practices to hiring more dynamic staff and changing corporate culture to enabling workers to make the most of their ideas and innovations.

 How can companies improve agility?

 Speed:

 Improving agility can help companies to corner their market, meet customer demand and improve customer experience. In order to become more agile, businesses need to be able to move quickly. This often means simplifying the corporate structure in order to allow ideas to pass from top to bottom, and vice versa, more quickly and efficiently.

Increasing the pace at which changes happen often also means empowering employees to make crucial decisions. However, it’s important that before they begin making these decisions, employees understand that it comes with a responsibility to maintain an organisation’s quality standards.

As well as empowering staff, companies should encourage employees to be continually thinking about how they can make jobs and processes simpler and more efficient. Remove unnecessary bureaucratic steps from your organisation and consider introducing technology that might help employees to respond better to changing conditions.

Experimentation:

 If new processes and practices are going to be introduced, there needs to be a culture of experimentation within a workplace. Employees need to be given the freedom to try out new ideas and the time to refine these ideas until they’re ready to be implemented. Tapping into employees’ creativity and ingenuity can give businesses a powerful new resource and help them to drive their company forward.

Communication:

 Communication is key in an agile work environment. Ideas need to be shared, refined and rethought if they’re going to be as successful as possible. As well as encouraging communication vertically within an organisation, company owners also need to ensure that employees are collaborating amongst themselves. This lateral communication is crucial if ideas are going to spread and new methods developed.

Hiring agile staff

 Hiring new, dynamic staff is a great way to bring energy and innovation into an organisation. If your current team have been working together for a while then introducing a few new elements could help to get creative ideas flowing. When hiring new members of staff, look out for employees who are excellent problems solvers and who are able to innovate on any given idea. Make sure that these new employees know that you want to improve agility and encourage them to share their ideas and come up with solutions to the challenges your business faces.

Working to improve agility can be incredibly beneficial for any organisation. Although it can take time to implement these changes, alter corporate policy and get employees all working to the same goals, the benefits of an agile workplace make the effort well worth it.