Research by Jobsite in to agile working practices has revealed that 54% of candidates and 73% of recruiters are now aware of agile working. The term has previously been strongly associated with the IT world, but the myth that agile working starts and stops with IT has been dispelled and the benefits of agile working are being embraced more widely in the business arena.

Despite this, our research shows that recruiters who have heard of agile working rises to 84% in the IT sector, with 70% having recruited for agile roles. It’s clearly a better-established technique in this industry than any other.

Now it’s firmly on the agenda for all HR and recruitment teams, it’s time to make sure you know what agile working is, where it’s come from and what the future holds for the working pattern. To do this, we need to understand a little bit about the history of software development, the shift in workplace culture and the huge rise in employee demands that merged these two seemingly unrelated elements.

Development lag

When the PC was on the rise in the 1990s, on the path to becoming an essential part of the office workers’ life as it is today, there was a huge need for software to create the systems that allowed employees to work electronically. Unfortunately, the ability to implement this software was not in line with the demand for it.

Development cycles could take so long that the end product was often outdated by the time it was delivered. With businesses starting to evolve at more rapid paces, costly projects were being cancelled mid-development and there was a desperate need for a better way of doing things.

Lightweight gains traction

With prominent figures in the development community increasingly expressing frustration at the state of development cycles, people started to experiment with different working styles. Their focus was speed of delivery, focusing on cutting down the time a project consumed in order to put useful software in front of users faster.

A focus developed around a culture of feedback and adaptability, when software developers realised that the key to achieving their speed-oriented goal was to get started sooner and refine later. This was seen as somewhat of a backlash against the bulky, bureaucratic processes that had been implemented between the 70s and 90s, which in turn had been implemented to reign in the unruly, ill-disciplined practices of the earliest days of software development.

Scrumming to success

As the lightweight thinking evolved and the term “agile” was introduced, the time lag issue was eroded as the working style became more advanced. An off-shoot of agile software development called “scrum” is where the crossover with how we understand agility in HR begins.

Development teams working in a scrum are given a focus on achieving objectives in a set time frame, without being dictated to about how they should achieve this. This additional responsibility, combined with flexibility in how something gets done in order to achieve better results, is the foundation of agility as a working pattern. To this day, scrum remains the most popular agile development working pattern.

Phoenix moment for flexibility

Running parallel to the rise of the scrum, the wider world of employment was also undergoing a change. Technology and globalisation have led to the ability to work remotely, without sacrificing quick communication or collaborative efforts. Combined with the shifting demands of life outside of work, the flexible working movement was taking off fast.

A 2016 Jobsite study showed that 45% of staff want flexible working as a benefit, with 39% saying they would sacrifice some of their salary for the perk. Yet companies have been expressing hesitance to implement flexible working in the last few years. This friction between supply and demand has led to a new kind of employment stepping in to fill the void – the gig economy.

After several years of bad PR and becoming synonymous with workers-right abuses, those seeking flexible employment seemed to be running out of options to find what they wanted while maintaining stable employment.

Now, the agile working movement has been identified as the bridge to cross this gap and create a modern working ecosystem that is beneficial for both employer and employee.

Want to learn more?

Discover the benefits agile working can bring to your organisation. Join us at In House Recruitment: Live! 2017 where Jobsite’s Lawrence Hardy, Head of Product Management, will explore the ways agility can improve your HR strategy, how it differs from flexibility and share further insights from the upcoming Jobsite whitepaper on agile working. Lawrence’s talk begins at 3pm.

We’ll also be at stand 5 throughout the day so come and say hello, get a demo of Jobsite’s technology, and discuss your recruitment challenges over a free coffee from the barista on the Jobsite stand!

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