Agile workers, out of sight, out of mind?

Lead consultant, chartered physiotherapist and experienced ergonomist Katharine Metters discusses the rise of agile working.

In her webinar 'Agile working - out of sight, out of mind?' first aired on Friday 28 July, Katharine offered tips and anecdotes for companies that want to get the best out of their agile workforce (you can watch the webinar in full at the end of this post).

"Having been an agile worker myself for some time it's something I'm very positive about," she says. "But it requires a different way of managing people. It's about coaching people, not supervising. There are some real changes we need to make and if we don't get them right it could derail everything agile working is meant to achieve."

There are, she continues, many different terms for agile working - flexible working, mobile working, activity based working, but she sees agile working, simply, a term that describes when work is not performed at a single workstation as the norm.

Putting control in employees' hands

"I think agile really hands over greater responsibility and drive to individuals," she says.  "It's a great opportunity to get people less sedentary and moving more. However, being a realist myself and working with companies who are doing this, I know there can be pitfalls."

With agile working, staff tend to work longer hours. This means it's even more vital that people's postures are changing frequently throughout the day. We must get out of the habit of working in a series of poor postures.

"At Posturite many of us work in an agile manner and have done for a long time. Over time we have had to change some things we do as we realised that we needed more face-to-face contact. We need to be prepared to listen and modify to improve.

"It's not the concept that's the problem, it's the implementation. It requires planning and training."

Why do we get it wrong?

The problem, Katharine believes, is in the way we make decisions.

"As humans we are generally motivated by short term gains unless there is immediate pain. We pay attention to today's risks, not tomorrows and certainly not those that'll affect us in 10 years time.

"Make sure employees are aware of all the options available to them. Quite often I've seen effort has gone into producing resources but the message never gets through to employees. We need to make sure they're aware of the attractive spaces we've made for them."

Katharine's message is that we want to give control to employees but can only do that when we provide the right support.

We should create environments that encourage wellbeing at work

"For example, I started off with work this morning at home - answering a few emails, then I walked to the station and caught the train to work, did some collaborative work, took a train home, walked back to my house and continued with a writing task. Not only was my step count looking good but I felt empowered in myself."

Watch Katharine's webinar here:



Agile working is a great catalyst for getting more movement into the working day but we do need to make sure we give plenty of thought to planning and information. We need to remember how people make choices because if we don't influence the decisions they make we're not going to get the outcome we want.

Katharine and her team of expert consultants can provide you with guidance and support - whether you're thinking of going agile, or simply need to smooth out your existing processes. Get in touch here ›