Agile Working

How re-framing flexible working delivers competitive advantage

Written by Fiona Cannon OBE, one of the UK’s most eminent workplace diversity experts, The Agility Mindset presents a plethora of unique research, opinions and practical solutions from leading business leaders.

Fiona Cannon OBE

Sir Winfried Bischoff provides the foreword:



His assertion is the starting point for Fiona Cannon to introduce the move from flexibility to agility and how an agile workforce can serve both employer and employee alike.

Cannon highlights research by The Future of Work Institute that identified 4 trends:

1) Technological Advance – This is making work more complex, technology-dependent and opening up new possibilities for working styles & time patterns. Changing the world of work from traditional “command and control” hierarchies to “connect and collaborate” forms of management.

2) Detachment of the individual from the norms – Also known as letting people do the work they want to do in the way they want do it – crafting their own jobs, adopting their own styles and being treated like an adult.

3) Demographic changes – Employees are enjoying longer lives and therefore employers can retain their skills and knowledge for a little while longer. This suggests a more flexible concept of retirement may be required.

4) Globalisation – opening up new markets and creating a 24/7 culture. This means flexible working may be required so businesses are always open for business. This naturally creates more of a focus on the notion of sustainability.

So what qualities must organisations need to survive and thrive in the new world?

Nimble, quick on their feet, agile, and ready for anything however a word of caution resounds “an adaptable organisation must remain organised and reaction times cannot be so fast that the rest of the organisations gets left behind. The need for adaptability must be constrained by the need for continuity.”

The agility of the workforce is imperative because the workforce is the largest cost item for most organisations and an area where resistance to constant adaptation and change is likely to be greatest.


Golden Rules of Implementation Agile Working

Cannon’s case studies are largely drawn from Agile Future Forum members such as Lloyds Banking Group, BT, Yorkshire Building Society, ITV, KPMG and HM Treasury. The book is full of fun facts like:

Lloyds Bank Black Horse finance embraced home working acorss the operations teams – increasing productivity by 10%

Using outsourcing and alternative maintenance shifts saved Ford the equivalent of 3% of total plant costs



Establishing an agile Tax Centre of Excellence helped KPMG meet client needs during challenging seasonal peaks and led to business growth of 10% and increased employee engagement scores

The most compelling example comes from Rufus Leonard – a creative agency that introduced flexible working hours to coordinate with its clients. In 2014, they won 11 new contracts, had a pitch-win ratio of 75% and won 19 industry awards!