Agile working vs Flexible working: What’s the difference?
Agile working and Flexible working is not something new but surely they are more prominent than ever after the pandemic. A lot of times, we use these terms interchangeably but there is a difference between them.
Agile working and Flexible working are focused on changing the way we work. To apply these principles, we have to understand the difference between the two.
People are no longer interested in a 40-hour workweek by sitting in front of the desktop or laptop for hours. According to a report by Statista, the number of people working from home rose to 44% during the pandemic as compared to the 17% before.
The employees do not tend to go back to the same routine again and continue the work like before. They have lived with their families and enjoyed that luxury to work from home and now they are not ready to go back to their offices.
People are demanding work from home policies upfront as they do not intend to go back to the same routine. Companies are facing difficulties in retaining their employees as they are now preferring companies with flexible or agile work policies. But a lot of industries can’t do that as their work requires fieldwork and a need to be there like farming, pizza stores, retail outlets, and businesses like these. But, those who can do it, for eg. IT companies are doing every bit of it to attract talent and retain their existing workforce.
People require work satisfaction more than anything now as they have discovered ways to work from home more efficiently. There are many productivity tools available such as Asana, SmartTask, ClickUp, etc. to name a few that allow employees to handle multiple projects, track the working time, communicate with colleagues, do video meetings, share files, collaborate on activities, share remote desktops, maintain relationships with clients by providing remote support, take notes, and much more.
How can companies make an employee stay when the technology is on the side of employees? By making them feel worthy and letting them decide the way they want to work. What will be the outcome of this activity? The employees will stay focused and will make sharp decisions as they are motivated to do productive work. Here we will discuss Agile Working and Flexible Working and the differences between them.
What is Flexible Working?
Flexible Working is an employee-centric approach. Also known as Flexitime, it gives an employee the choice of working from wherever they want, whenever they want. It refers to a request made by an employee for an alternative working pattern from the ordinary 9-5 job. This option is inclusively given to employees according to their needs, such as parenting, study, and caring responsibilities.
Flexible Working includes:
- Part-time work, where someone works fewer hours compared to the full-time hours set by their company
- Compressed hours, where full-time hours are worked over a short period of time, for eg. working for 4 days full time instead of 5 days per week, resulting in a day off per week. A lot of people are now looking at this option (4 days working week) for increasing work productivity and reducing stress. People are ready to work 12 hours for 4 days just to reduce the workload and get an extra day off apart from the weekend.
- Job Sharing - This is an interesting aspect of Flexible Working. Here 2 persons share their job and workload for the same position. For example, two persons will be hired for the same position where they will be paid half of the amount for half of the time that they dedicate to the job. This particular policy is helping a lot of people to start their careers again.
- Remote Working - This is the most revolutionized thing that has happened to the corporate culture. You don't have to come to the office for work. You can work from home or any other location apart from the office.
- Flexitime - This option allows the employees to choose their own working hours instead of working 9-5. They just have to be present for some important hours of the day and the remaining they can adjust by themselves.
Benefits Of Flexible Working
There are a lot of benefits of Flexible Working for both employees and employers. The employees feel more valued and less stressed whereas the employers get benefitted from the increased productivity of the workforce. Some of the benefits are stated below:
- Improves Retention - Flexible working makes the employee feel valued and listened to. This helps employers to retain their top talent and reduce the attrition rate.
- Attracts Top talent - The persons at the top in any company require flexible working as they are bound to commitments with their family and people around them. This flexibility of working is what attracts them towards any new company as they are already having great packages.
- Improves Diversity- The flexible approach improves diversity as employers can hire from a vast pool of employees across the world.
- Cost-Efficient - If the employees aren’t coming to the office, then a lot of expense is being saved.
- Eco Friendly - Fewer employees in the office means less usage of resources like electricity, vehicles, and everything. Hence, less wastage of resources. This is an eco-friendly option.
- Increased Employee Engagement - When employees are at their home, they are more relaxed and hence they engage more compared to the office where they have to sit in front of the screen, willingly or unwillingly.
- Increased Productivity - Working on your own terms gives a different sense of freedom and this thing is responsible for the increased productivity in employees.
What is Agile Working?
Agile Working is organization-centric. It mainly focuses on the whole organization rather than a single employee. Agile Working creates the flexible environment of working from anywhere and deciding your working day for the whole workforce. It gives autonomy to the organization and all of its employees to get the work done as per their way. It is mostly about bringing people, process, time, technology, and everybody together to get the work done within the guidelines but without any boundaries.
Agile Working makes the employees flexible but it demands the impact as a whole. The main aim behind this approach is to create friendly, efficient, and effective organizations that provide work satisfaction to their employees.
Benefits Of Agile Working
Agile working focuses on getting the job done rather than working flexibly. It is a change in mindset as a whole to increase productivity, and work effectiveness. This approach will create more interactive and productive employees who own their work and mistakes rather than denying them. It can also increase the freedom and sense of entitlement for the workforce.
Differences Between Agile Working and Flexible Working
Agile working requires a lot of commitment from the management and staff whereas in flexible working an individual is responsible and hence it is easier to implement.
Flexible working is more employee-centric whereas Agile Working is organization-centric where the mission is to make the workplace more efficient and effective.
Agile working is designed to benefit both employers and employees as it is performance-based whereas in flexible working, only the employee will be benefitted.
Flexible Working is a habit change for an individual but Agile Working is a mindset change for the whole organization to derive a similar goal. The ownership factor comes into agile working whereas it isn’t like that in the Flexible approach.
Agile working encourages face-to-face meetings whereas this isn’t the case with Flexible working.
To conclude, both approaches have their own challenges but they share the same goal, i.e to make work easier and more productive. It needs a cultural shift in flexible approach whereas it needs trust and flexible infrastructure to make the agile approach work. Both approaches have their own pros and cons. It's up to you which approach you choose based on your organization.