The advantages and drawbacks of agile working

Agile working is all the rage but is it really right for your organisation? We look at the real pros and cons for business owners to help you decide.

Advantages and drawbacks of agile working

Agile working has hit the ground running recently. Businesses have decided to adopt this trend in an effort to motivate employees and instil trust in its staff. Here are some advantages and drawbacks:


  • Competitive business

    Agile working gives a competitive edge to a business. Response times decrease when a business has more flexible hours in which to operate.

  • Mobility and flexibility 

    One goal of agile working is to do away with presenteeism: the act of requiring employees to be present, whether or not they have presence of mind. Flexible working means employees become less restricted and can begin to move beyond the office walls.

  • Reduced costs 

    Multiple employees using the same workspace decreases the need for extra real estate. Companies are able to cut workforce costs, all the while offering their employees flexibility, which in turn boosts productivity.

  • Improved productivity 

    The theory goes: more work gets done when the lights stay on longer. But, employees are splitting long hours into shifts. Where group projects are frequent, an open, agile workspace design promises easy group collaboration.


  • Mismatched management

    Agile working means a switch to self-managed employees. Managers still monitor, but they must adapt to the change in environment or end micromanaging.

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  • Territory disputes 

    Agile working means no assigned seating, but it is human nature to claim territory. An Australian company, Chiat/Day, was described as having ‘turf wars’ following an unsuccessful transition into agile working.

  • Disgruntled employees 

    Not all employees are receptive though. Ben Collins of Business Insider describes why people hate it. Despite territory disputes, the passing of germs and having no space of your own are big off-putters.


Favouring a shared environment may be considered workplace advancement, but the remnants of the cubicle world may cause a clash.

Consider the ability of your organisation to transform, and your commitment to that transformation. Only then can you begin to take advantage of the aspects of agile working that suits your business’s needs.

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[Note, this post was first published on 20/08/2013 but we’ve since updated it]

One comment on “The advantages and drawbacks of agile working

  1. Unilever defines agile working as “an approach to getting work done with maximum flexibility and minimum constraints. It goes beyond just flexible working or telecommuting and focuses on eliminating the barriers to getting work done efficiently.”

    The goal of agile working is to create more responsive, efficient and effective organisations based on more balanced, motivated, innovative and productive teams and individuals – essential ingredients in surviving and thriving in the current economically challenged globalised world.

    Twentieth century methods are no longer sustainable in 21st Century organisations – as such agile working is no longer a fringe idea but a mainstream concept.

    For many organisations this change requires a shift in corporate culture from command-and-control to embracing the Agile Agenda, only then will organisations reap the full benefits of agile working.

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