Employers typically offer formal flexible-working policies, such as leave for parents, and flexibility around sabbatical or other opportunities.
The reality is that flexible working is driven only when an employee has a need, such as childcare and eldercare.
On the other hand, agile working is where an employer provides employees with flexibility in determining how, when and where they work. If employees have autonomy over how and where they work, employers will get increased productivity, performance and engagement.
If we provide employees with agility, we can create a lot of flexibility around how we operate our workspaces and our work environments. The vision is to get organisations to a place where staff determine where, when and how they work, and organisations provide environments where they can come together for creativity, socialisation and innovation.
That’s much more than making the work environment work in an efficient way. It’s also about allowing individuals enough flexibility that they feel they have autonomy and are much more satisfied with the way work is managed.
Organisations have a legal responsibility to accommodate needs for certain people, but the more enlightened organisations make flexibility available for all employees. It is about empowering teams to be able to adopt flexible practices that people need.
From a wellbeing point of view, flexible working removes a number of individual stresses for employees. Removing a level of individual stress allows employees to feel a stronger sense of purpose and wellbeing.
Where there is less flexibility, an individual feels they are trying to juggle too many things. Once you take the stresses out of people’s lives and recognise that people have fuller lives than just being at work, then that leads to increased wellbeing.
Denise Keating, chief executive, Employers Network for Equality and Inclusion (Enei)