What is Agile Working and Is It Right For Your Business?

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What is agile working?

In some ways, agile working is closely related to flexible working, although in many ways they are very different. The Cambridge Dictionarydefines flexibility as being “able to change or be changed easily according to the situation”, whereas agility often pertains to moving quickly with ease. Although they both offer ways of working that differ from traditional workplace environments, flexible working often suits the needs of the employee only, through means such as flexitime, working from home or compressed hours (to name a few). On the other hand, agile working is considered to benefit both employer and employee.

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The Agile Future Forumstates agile working practices along the following four dimensions:

  • Time: when?
  • Location: where?
  • Role: what do they do? 
  • Source: who is employed? 

This means that not only do workers get the benefits of flexible working but they are also given more autonomy as to how they complete the work. This focus shift from attendance and punctuality, to results and the quality of the work, means that employees can complete their work to a higher standard by working in a way that suits them. This then has a knock-on effect for the employer, as the output is much stronger than trying to push out high-quality work from stifled and overworked teams with a poor work-life balance.

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Agile working is becoming a much more popular way of working, as it allows work to be produced faster and in smaller chunks and for more energy to be spent in other areas, such as communicating with a client. As work is produced incrementally, rather than via the waterfall method (all at once), clients can keep up to date with where you are on a project and request changes or give feedback as you go. This means no more starting again or making huge changes to projects you’ve been working on for six months.

What is agile working methodology?

Agile methodology is a project management framework that can be used to complete tasks and projects. At the heart of agile methodology is the customer and the end goal is to make the customer happy to encourage returning work. 

Although called a methodology, agile working is also largely a mindset and workplace ethos, all of which is underpinned by the following twelve principles:

  • Satisfy the customer through continuous delivery
  • Welcome changing requirements
  • Work toward frequent delivery within shorter timescales
  • Ongoing and daily collaboration between the project team and stakeholders
  • Building projects around motivated individuals
  • Convey information through face-to-face interactions
  • An understanding that working software is the primary measure of progress
  • Agile promotes sustainable development through its processes
  • An emphasis on technical excellence and good design
  • Simplicity by maximising work not done
  • The best architectures and designs emerge from self-organising teams
  • Regular reflection on how to become more effective

With agile, there is no one perfect way of working. Leaders can develop ways that work best for their team, whilst using these twelve principles as a baseline to follow.

How does agile scrum work?

To understand how this way of working is used in a business, Target Internet outlines some key terminology:

  • Scrum – the working framework (the way the team is configured)
  • Sprint – a short burst of work (the period of time spent working)
  • Agile – overall approach and working philosophy

Scrums are made up of 1-4 week cycles of work called “sprints” and are managed by the scrum leader. Through daily meetings, the leader can keep up with each team member to ensure the task is clear of any roadblocks. Consider your team as a group of cogs working together to produce work, whilst your scrum leader is the maintenance person, making sure things run smoothly.

By using scrums, the scrum leader can keep up-to-date with the production of work, clarify any misunderstandings or misconceptions and support their team when change occurs to ensure smooth transitions and recovery. 

How do sprints work in agile?

Sprints allow for large projects to be broken down into smaller pieces, so teams can work towards their end goal from the ground up. By working in increments, scrum leaders and clients can check in on a project to see how it’s coming along and ensure that the foundations are strong to continue building up from. 

Working in sprints allows for faster task production as there is no need for a review of the whole task on completion due to each building block being monitored and amended as the project was moving. Imagine building a house for example. It’s much easier to fix an issue the second it arises than trying to fix large sections of a weak wall without bringing the house down on top of you at the end. 

What are agile ways of working?

Agile ways of working encourage collaboration, support, reflection and organisation. They support teams in streamlining their processes and critiquing their work as they go, to ensure constant progress is made. 

Here are a few ways you can begin implementing agile working in your business:

  • Standup meetings – discuss the past, present and future of your workload. Ask your teams what they have completed,  are currently working on and their next step. This is a great opportunity for your team to bring up any roadblocks too.
  • Reflection sessions (or retrospectives) – these can work great as mini-performance reviews. Encourage your team to think back to what went well, what could have gone better and what they can do in the future. 
  • Sprint planning meetings – set goals for your teams and steps to support them in achieving them. Take this time to delegate the work across the team and ensure everyone understands the role that they play in the completion of the bigger picture. Now is also a good time to discuss anything that was missed from the past sprint or concerns about the upcoming goals. 
  • Grooming scrum (or backlog grooming meetings) – this type of meeting is a great opportunity to pre-plan for the next sprint, keep up with the backlog of work and prepare what is next to come in the process. Product backlog grooming is required to make sure that the tasks presented in the backlog are relevant and that nothing is missed. This allows for smooth transitions between sprints and for your teams to always be working towards an end goal.

Agile working needs a workspace that caters for a fast-paced and ever-changing environment. Take a look at our amazing office spaces for rent today and find a space that reflects your company values.

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