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Flex: Normalizing a common culture around flexible working through inclusive agility

Updated: Mar 10, 2019

I often attend conferences where the best of the best in flexible working is highlighted within organisations while I know that the lived experiences for many in those organisation does not fit with this outward portrayal. Are corporate companies suffering from some sort of multiple personality syndrome or are they just struggling to normalize a common culture around flexibility?

For flexible working to be successful it needs to be embedded at all levels. There is no point in having a clearly defined flex policy supported by the CEO if there is minimal take up, similarly having pockets of great flex can act as a real model for others but only if the teams that are struggling with flex are well supported to make the transition away from the 'ideal' worker model.

An important way a company can embed flexibility in an organisation is to make it part of a re-focus towards inclusive agility. Agility is not an employee benefit but rather an economic imperative with tangible business benefits and should be a key business driver. The decision driver towards agility is often cost, to optimize workforce and facility outgoings, but the benefits can also be felt by both the 'talent' and the customers if the focus is on inclusive agility.

To gain the benefits of inclusive agility a company needs to not only have agile technology in place but also inclusive working practices. When flexibility is moved from simply an employee benefit to a fundamental part of a companies workplace agility process it can then be truly embedded in an organisation.

An important part of this process is to figure out where your company is on an inclusive agility scale. Things to look at are;

  • Managerial culture and mindset - how risk adverse are your board/executive committee, do they already value flexibility as a business imperative and is there any investment already taking place to increase diversity and inclusion?

  • Adoption of agile technology - is there a unified laptop policy, is hot desking utilized and what agile communication tools are in place?

  • Willingness to dig into the data - is there a willingness to be transparent with data, to benchmark against peers on diversity and inclusion, to refocus on performance over preseentism?

  • Corporate Support - is there sufficient HR/Learning and Development capacity to improve managerial and colleague support?

Once you understand where your company is on the inclusive agility scale you can start to focus on moving your organisation towards inclusive agility. By asking yourself the above questions you are able to make sure that any agility discussion looks at the whole of agility and not just the installation of Microsoft Teams and some poorly implemented hot desking. By focusing on inclusive agility the discussion around flexible working moves from an employee benefit narrative to an inevitable outcome of the process.

If you enjoyed this post please check out the rest of my blog here, including my post on the presenteeism conundrum and the uphill challenge of a corporate career.

All opinions are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of my employer.


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