Early results of research comparing worker performance have found agile workers to be more efficient, productive and effective than those working traditional patterns. However some personality types may find it harder to adapt to agile working.
The Employers Network for Equality and Inclusion (enei) asked employees and their line managers to fill in questionnaires about performance. It targeted individuals working in an agile way across 16 organisations and found they fell into three categories: ‘traditional and flexi-time workers working at their employers premises; home/ mobile workers; and truly agile workers who choose how, when and where they work and are judged on results.
“The agile workers’ performance is consistently higher than each of the other groups,” said enei associate Debbie Rotchell. “Performance increases proportionally with the amount of flexibility.” Rotchell added that there were more employees rated ‘exceptional’ where the workers had themselves requested the agile work pattern.
However, there was one exception to the pattern and that was in the area of teamwork, which was generally more even across the groups and slightly higher among the more traditional workers.
The employees also filled out DISC personality profiles and were classed as ‘dominant’, ‘influencers’, ‘steadfast’ or ‘conscientious’. The performance of the dominant workers was high, suggesting they find it easier to work in an agile way. The influencers showed strong performance, but of the four groups they found agile working most difficult.
“It’s not that they’re not suited to it, but they might need more support,” said Rotchell. “They need people around them and need to be able to talk things through and have someone validate that they are doing a good job.” The influencers were most likely to want regular interaction with their manager (56%) and colleagues (67%).
Both influencers (33%) and conscientious workers (20%) said agile working has a negative impact on teamworking. There were no other significant instances of agile working having a negative impact on performance.
The study added that steadfast workers may find it hard to adapt to agile working and are likely to stick to a nine to five schedule. They may need reassurance that their manager is happy with their work. Conscientious workers are likely to thrive in an agile environment away from distractions, but may work too many hours in their quest for perfection and may be in danger of distancing themselves from colleagues.
Surprisingly, all agile workers placed little importance on social events. Rather than this not being important, enei suggested employers may need to organise events and encourage agile workers to attend so they spend time with colleagues. “If it is entirely voluntary an agile worker may not go,” said Rotchell.
Agile workers also placed low importance on flashy office facilities, with only 14% of dominant workers rating this highly (influencers – 22%, steadfast – 36% and conscientious – 37%).
enei chief executive Denise Keating said: “With the traditional employment model changing, there are many reasons why organisations are increasingly looking at agile ways of working: competing in a global marketplace, reducing costs and increasing productivity. Our study is the first of its kind to investigate the link between personality profiles and the ability to work effectively in an agile way. It shows the importance of considering the needs of these different types of employees when making the transition from a traditional working environment.”
Enei is due to release further analysis of the results in the coming weeks.
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