Happiness at work
Agile working: A pathway to a better work-life balance
written by Elena Kostova
Working 10 hours a day, hitting the gym, learning a new skill, having an exciting social life - we all love the idea of being hyper-productive. So we rush through our lives, instead of trying to find the balance in it. And sooner or later this lifestyle takes its toll - we feel overworked and stressed. According to a Gallup study, 1 out of 5 employees is highly engaged and at risk of burnout. Companies are trying to combat stress by offering wellness packages or life coaches, but this is not enough. If we really want to improve the situation, we need to change the way we work, to adopt new methodologies that will empower us to achieve a better balance between personal and professional life.
Following the current work trends, one term pops out more and more - agile working, also known as activity based working (ABW). Some use it as a synonym to the flexible work style and others compare it to the remote one. But Agile is neither and both of these things. It’s the creation of systems, offices and structures which allow the employees to embrace work without boundaries. It requires a functional and mental shift from performance management to performance development.
How does agile apply to you and your work?
The agile way of working allows you to embrace productivity when it hits you - while on the bus to work, right after you’ve made breakfast in the kitchen, or maybe an idea struck you just before you went to bed. When it comes to agile, there are really no constraints or limits. Yes, you are supposed to do your job but how, when and where are entirely up to you. So, let’s see how this work style can help you keep harmony in your life by allowing you to concentrate on the right things at the right time.
Create a schedule that works for you
The current work schedules benefit the life cycle of the early birds - work starts early in the morning and ends in the afternoon. But what if you are a night owl and you focus better after lunch? One of the biggest advantages of agile is the ability to schedule your day exactly the way you want it. You are only limited by your energy, not working hours.
Spend less time in commuting
Maybe you are lucky and your office is just 15 minutes away from your home, but for the less fortunate of us, traveling to work takes at least an hour every day. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average American spends over 200 hours in commuting a year, which is 9 days wasted on bus rides or in traffic jams. To be honest, I would gladly trade this time for a vacation on the beach 😎. And guess what? Agile working helps you do just that. You can work from the comfort of your home, or even from a holiday resort. A nice bonus is that you can live in any place around the world and still be a valuable and productive member of your team (Isn’t that a dream come true? 😍)
Take a break when you need it
If anyone has ever said to you that they stay productive for straight 8 hours a day, trust me, they are lying. Everyone has ups and downs throughout the day, moments they are productive and the ones when their brains seem to have shut down. The flexibility that agile working offers means you can analyze those cycles and get a break when you need one instead of when you are told to. This reduces the anxiety you get from having to work when you are the least productive. It has also proven to lower stress levels and the risk of burnouts.
Time for family and loved ones
For some, their office hours do not match with the schedules of the rest of the family. Having control over your work planning allows you to spend more valuable time with your loved ones. You can work some days from home while your child is sick or you can leave the office in the middle of the day to run some personal errands. All this can be done with no guilty conscience because the work you do does not suffer from it.
After British Telecom had introduced the agile work style, they found that people feel happier and healthier. Why was that? With agile you are no longer bound to the 9-5 timetable and put in a position where you have to prioritize work before everything else. You can distribute your energy over multiple aspects of your life: family, work, personal growth, friends. This balance gives you the feeling of clarity and allows you to be present, which in turn creates a sense of purpose and happiness.