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The difference between Hybrid, Flexible and Agile working

With the new Flexible Working UK Law that came into enforcement in April, we provided a blog explaining these flexible working changes and what they mean for employees. We thought perhaps people may not understand the difference between the working types. There are three modern approaches to organising work and they all offer varying degrees of flexibility and adaptability. They do share similarities but do however have distinct characteristics.

It is interesting to see how much flexible working possibilities have changed the world of work. According to the CIPD in May 2024, around 4 million people have changed their careers due to lack of flexibility at their work. This in turn has meant that flexible, hybrid or agile working arrangements have begun to creep up to the top of people’s wish list when it comes to job searching. This demand can be seen by the fact that, according to the ONS, 58% of employers were offering remote/hybrid work to employees in 2023.

Flexible Working

Flexible working involves working arrangements that allow the employee to have greater control over when, where and how they work. This includes hours, remote working, part-time, job sharing and shorter working weeks. This allows employees the choice and autonomy to accommodate to their personal and professional needs while still meeting what is required of them.

This is about a work/life balance and allowing people the flexibility to cater their work life around their family, travel, and personal commitments. This depends massively on the company and culture and involves a large level of trust. However, this does in turn make your business more inclusive and a more desirable place to work. In turn, you can attract and retain talent, improve employee morale and satisfaction and all-round increase productivity and performance by allowing employees to align their work schedules and more.

It does go without saying that clear guidelines and policies are created to ensure fairness, consistency, and accountability with your flexible working arrangements.

An element of flexible working can involve fully remote workers as they are given the choice as to where and when they work. As of July 2023, according to the ONS, 16% of the UK workforce are full-time remote workers.

Hybrid Working

Hybrid working involves a combination of remote and in-office work. Employees have the flexibility to split their time between locations. It allows greater flexibility in terms of location and working hours as well as being accommodating for individual and organisational preferences.

This is all about promoting a healthy work/life balance, by giving employees the freedom but also control around where and when they work which in turn can optimise their performance and well-being. The traditional office space becomes a destination of choice, and it is vital to give the workplace a professional and personal appeal. It helps employees reduce commuting times and costs and enhances productivity by letting them create an environment and work life that best suits them.

Hybrid work doe require effective communication and collaboration tools to ensure seamless interaction between remote and in-office employees.

According to Forbes, as of April 2020, 46.6% of UK employees were following the hybrid work structure. As of June 2023, 29% of employees follow the hybrid working model. With another 10% having hybrid working as a choice but choose not to.

Agile Working

Agile working is less about when people work and more concerned about where they work. It prioritises adaptability and collaboration and is very much focused more on the outcomes rather than the processes. A usual set-up of agile working can be seen by open workspaces, flexible seating arrangements and many tools and technology and collaboration tools to facilitate communication and collaboration across teams.

This type of work is all about creating a productive and collaborative work environment. Allowing people to work together and communicate effectively but also giving them the freedom to move around and not feel tied down to a desk. It promotes creativity, cross-functional teams, rapid decision-making, and interactive processes that can, in turn, increase employees’ work productivity and outcomes in terms of reaching goals.

It allows employees to change their work settings and tasks, and this can be day-to-day or even hour-by-hour. Creating a multifunctional, adaptable, and integrated workspace to ensure an element of freedom in your work.

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