Five ways agile working will change your life – Fiona Tatton, Womanthology Editor

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Fiona Tatton - Womanthology Founder and Editor

Fiona Tatton

Live to work or work to live? Why agile is the future…

Hello and welcome to issue 55. This edition I wanted to show you about the power of difference when it comes to the way you do the work you do. How many of us dream about seizing control of our work lives and making work work for us? Do you live to work or work to live?

We all want to be able to do the latter, so how can you make this a reality and live the life you’ve always imagined where your work life and your personal life can sit side by side, with one complementing the other? I decided to look at how agile working can help.

When you ask people to define it you never get the same answer twice. It sits under the broader umbrella of ‘smarter working’ and it’s been described as a new paradigm. A mindset. It’s the sweet spot where people, processes, connectivity, time and place are all combined together in new and innovative ways, and the magic happens. Things are done differently and results are better. Here’s what to expect:

1. ‘Work’ stops being a place

We now live in an increasingly connected world as technology allows us to do most things from anywhere. For those of us who are self-employed, the world is pretty much our oyster as long as there’s good Wi-Fi and ideally a reliable supply of hot and cold beverages. If you choose coffee shop working the occupational hazard is that you end up back-to-backing cappuccinos and racking up a massive bar tab. If you work at home you can pad around in your jim jams until lunchtime and them move in to your trackie bottoms and hoodie in the afternoon.

If you work for someone else it’s the equivalent of going into sixth form at school – there are still rules but you’re being treated like an adult. If you agree to do something, you’re trusted to do that on or off site. It’s also about using workspaces differently, so you’re less likely to have your own desk space, instead you’ll occupy a desk only when you’re in the office.

When done properly, you’ll manage meetings differently too. No more amorphous gatherings with oblique outcomes and lumpy structure. An agile approach is about questioning. Is it an effective use of people’s time to gather teams together in one place? Is there a better alternative to track and communicate progress?

2. You embrace doing things differently

A change will do you good is how the saying goes. The ‘freedom’ to work like an adult that agile brings is refreshing. Breaking away from the same old same old creates new opportunities to re-evaluate the ‘how’ we work. New technology, coupled with large amounts of data and the ability to process this means new insights can be gleaned. We can get to better understand our customers’ needs and wants so we can get focused.

What if this freedom and change leads to further new innovation? What if we get better and better and change becomes a constant that is embraced?

3. Time works for you instead of against you

How much time would you say you waste on an average work day? Long commutes, email distractions and unnecessary activities all rack up. It’s an informative, if slightly depressing activity when you add up the amount of unproductive time that is spent in a regular workplace. From an accounting perspective, it doesn’t make good financial sense to pay people if they’re not being productive.

What if you were able to look at all your activities objectively and from a fresh perspective that challenged the conventional status quo? What if you could concentrate on the worthwhile things that add value and drive progress towards a clearly defined outcome? No more woolly tasks that suck your time away.

What if time was to become your friend? What if you worked in a different, more efficient way that meant that when it came to the end of the working day (whatever time or day this may be – think outside nine to five, Monday to Friday). What if you were measured on outcomes and all the outcomes were well planned, realistic and achievable?

4. You take control of your destiny

So all in all, this agile working lark is looking like a great opportunity for both women and men to be empowered in the workplace. When affording people freedom it means that we all benefit. A sensible work life blend for one partner in a couple has a positive ripple effect for both partners as, in theory at least, it is possible to do more with less.

So it’s a cumulative effect of work being wherever you are, the freedom of being measured on outcomes rather than inputs (i.e. time), making time work in your favour and the ability to configure resources in different ways to get better results. All of these things together equal more control over your life. Who doesn’t want to take charge of their destiny?

5. You’re happier

HappyCan it really be true? Does this new paradigm of virtue mean that all agile workers can be happier? Let’s hope so. Not being chained to a desk + doing things differently + managing time + taking control of your destiny = happiness. Job done and you’re working to live.

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