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Agile working under the spotlight

18 November 2016

Cardiff Business School’s Executive Education Breakfast series addressed a hot topic in the world of business and work - agile and flexible working.

The Breakfast Briefing, held on Friday 11 November 2016, drew a full house of more 90 people, reflecting the multi-stakeholder interest in patterns of flexible working and performance optimisation.

Director of Executive Education Sarah Lethbridge introduced the session, which was held in partnership and delivered in conjunction with Lee Wakemans, the property consultants. Acknowledging the record crowd for a Breakfast Briefing (the series has been running for around 18 months and continues to grow), Sarah welcomed Paul Wong, a Director of Lee Wakemans, to discuss the science behind agile working and the company’s own Optimise approach, designed to address, and adapt to, the rapidly changing dynamics of work and the workplace.

Paul began his presentation with an overview of the accepted definitions of agile working and shared one definition used by the NHS:  “A way of working in which an organisation empowers people to work where, when and how they choose – with maximum flexibility and minimum constraints – to optimise their performance and deliver ‘best in class’ value and customer service.”

He outlined the social, technological and cultural changes which have impacted and changed the working day and working experience. The previously accepted ‘norm’ – a working day of 9-5 and post delivered once a day – has been replaced by a ‘new normal’ of 24/7 availability and access. The technological and cultural changes has changed the working day, why is it not being better exploited to improve and change how people work.

Paul highlighted a range of studies and research which demonstrate that a new and more agile approach to work can increase turnover and profitability, lead to a decrease in absenteeism, improve productivity and stimulate greater employee, and cultural, contentment.

The Optimise approach, developed and used by Lee Wakemans, designed to create more time and productivity focuses on four ‘cogs’: Culture, Process, Equipment and Building. Improving these key areas can improve business and individual performance. A workshop exercise asked those in attendance (in groups) to consider the three areas they would like to change in their working life and the cogs they would sit under. The exercise demonstrated collective and shared ambitions for change and the overarching achievability of them.

The ambition is for a better work/life balance and the tools are in place, facilitated by technology, to enable this. However, in conclusion Paul argued that how technology is allowed to impact or change working life is a cultural, and collective, choice to be made within organisations and businesses.

Watch a recording of the Breakfast Briefing session.

The next Cardiff Business School Executive Education Breakfast Briefing will take place on Thursday 19 January 2017 with Cardiff University’s School of Computer Science. Dr Pete Burnap will discuss Big Data, with a consideration of the University’s Knowledge Transfer Partnership with Admiral. Register your attendance now.

For more information visit the School webpages.