Why agile work is so important

By now, all of us have probably heard about it at least once: Agile project management, as proposed by Scrum, for example, is ideal for the iterative implementation of projects in line with customer requirements. Design Thinking Workshops are the absolute hit when it comes to the joint development of new business models. And Kanban is also tapped time and time again when projects need to be processed. One thing is certain: Agile collaboration methods are en vogue. Agility, however, is not only decisive for the output of the company and its innovative strength, but also for what lies behind it – the workforce. Greater agility and decision-making scope for employees can be achieved in just a few steps. Read on for a few suggestions.

Collaborative work

It probably all kicked off with so-called crowdsourcing and the special platforms set up in this context. But the "source" addressed here was more to be found outside of the respective company – in the crowd. But instead of searching for ideas and innovations externally, collaboration here is geared to digging for gold internally. Collaborative work tools enable new ways of working creatively, developing ideas together and thereby directly participating in the results. Everyone can participate in decisions about the future by continuously collecting, linking, enriching and evaluating ideas on a broad basis.

These tools not only contribute to the "wisdom of the many" but also make collaboration easier, more pleasant, faster and more productive – and therefore all the more motivating. They facilitate access to decision-makers and accelerate decision-making processes. For example, with the help of these tools you can find answers in real time that you would normally wait hours or days for if you would have consulted colleagues. Regardless of the activities and areas for which you deploy these new digital tools, cooperation throughout the company will reach a new quality. Cohesion will grow, and a share economy will be implemented in the place of silo mentalities.  

Flexibilizing working hours

This area too has seen a great deal of developments in recent year thanks to digitization. Shift exchange platforms, self-services and even preferred duty plans can be implemented so intuitively with the help of workforce management software that employees actually enjoy the process. Visually appealing dashboards provide a quick overview of current time and vacation balances or other important information such as tomorrow's shift. At the same time, employees can conveniently submit requests for vacation, business trips or overtime, for example, via self services, any time, any place. Or record working hours or cost centers. Naturally, HR managers also stand to benefit from this. If an employee submits a holiday request, the supervisor receives a message and can quickly approve or reject the request. At the click of a mouse, all the relevant information for decision-making is available: holiday and working time balances, overtime, absences of other team members in the requested period or the date of the request. Superiors also have access to the current annual calendar of their employees and can call up an attendance list with real-time data at any time. The software stores all relevant time management information centrally, enabling management to carry out standard daily reporting at the push of a button. For example, daily duty rosters, monthly overviews and absence calendars for each employee are immediately available as pdf.

Thanks to workforce management solutions, employees can not only be involved in administration but also in duty scheduling. By way of the "Working time requests" function, they can see which working time or shift offers are available on a particular day and select them at the click of a mouse. Via the digital shift exchange platform, already planned times or shifts can be exchanged between colleagues – even at very short notice. Employees can either create an exchange offer themselves or use the search function to find a suitable one. All the necessary information such as work patterns, time, workplace and the respective qualifications required, for example for a particular machine in the production area or the cash register in the retailing sector, are available at a glance via the shift exchange platform. Moreover, requests and exchange offers can only be posted if all rules defined by the duty roster are still fulfilled after the exchange and no conflicts with minimum or maximum working time, qualification or rest periods will arise. The software includes employee wishes or the shift swap directly in the planning. In this way, working time flexibilization is fun for employees and the company alike!

Healthy working environment

Mental agility also includes physical tension and relaxation. Thanks to internal company yoga, massage and fitness offerings, "mental workers" stay efficient and motivated. So why not stand by the window with a headset while making a phone call and focus on your breath or do a bit of eye training? Unfortunately, presence at the workplace alone is no guarantee of performance. For the brain to get up to speed, it not only needs oxygen, but also open, bright office spaces and workplaces that are adapted and attuned to the new working worlds. This enables concentrated action and a lively exchanges. The brain's mental work unfolds in four phases: inspire, concentrate, activate, regenerate. This rhythm needs to be supported, also through more individual time management. And what is more: Brains tire very quickly. That's why retreat and quiet areas, gardens, terraces or even the good old comfy sofa are not only a possibility for cross-functional conversations and exchanges of ideas, but also relaxation for the brain. Moreover, music, scents and light, healthy food can also be a great help here.

Experience has shown that if employees can at least partially shape their working environment, this will result in greater satisfaction, motivation and willingness to perform. And it is precisely this knowledge that you should make expedient use of. The tools and options are available. Now it is only a matter of using them profitably – for the benefit of employees and companies alike.

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About the author

Sabine Eriyo

An ardent language lover, communication ace and philanthropist: Sabine is a passionate copywriter and communicator, both in her private life and for topics that affect the world of work. As a dedicated humanities scholar, she is also inclined to aesthetic and philosophical pursuits.

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