Agile Working – embracing a ‘modern’ way of working
Posted on: January 18th 2022 · read
23rd March 2020 – for most, the start of a time of great uncertainty, however over time it became an opportunity to explore and unlock a new, more engaging, way of working; embracing technology, creating a better work-life balance, reducing costs and a chance to implement environmental and sustainability policies.
Flexible working will be a familiar term used in most firms (allowing staff to select different working hours to accommodate their needs), however, agile working goes further than this, bringing together people, processes, connectivity, technology, time and place to find the most appropriate and effective way of working.
In this article, Simon takes a look through the main advantages that agile working can bring, along with the barriers which come with implementing this new way of working.
Arguably the most important aspect, the foundations upon which agile working can operate: up-to-date equipment, systems and software, a good internet connection and ongoing IT support will provide your firm with the tools to operate efficiently.
Of course, there are inherent risks of placing such reliance on IT systems, which firms must not ignore; Cyber-attacks are becoming a more frequent event but with robust systems and policies in place, these risks can be mitigated.
Investing in new technology can bring advantageous tax savings:
- 100% relief on spend up to £1 million by way of annual investment allowance
- For companies, the potential to obtain the new 130% super deduction until 2023.
Working from home or a hybrid of office and home working can unlock new opportunities for existing staff and attract a new generation of staff who demand a new approach to the traditional office-based working arrangement. Empowering staff by providing a flexible and agile working environment may help improve employee engagement which in turn can lead to improved efficiency and productivity.
Reducing costs and becoming ‘green’
With agile working now expected, firms can look to reduce office space and save on overhead expenditure, concentrating on office space which works for the modern workforce, hot-desking and flexible meeting space.
A hybrid approach, or working from home permanently, reduces daily commutes saving time and energy as well as reducing environmental pollution. In addition to this, a move towards greater use of technology reduces our requirement for paper documents and the aim to become paperless. The emergence of paperless systems and online file management systems will of course assist in this move.
It is essential for legal practices to formulate an agenda that focuses on the long-term sustainability of their business. Putting aside the environmental importance for one moment, having a sustainability plan and policy will also help you to attract the next generation of employees who are becoming more and more passionate about this subject. To find out more, click here to watch MHA’s latest webinar focusing on optimising the sustainability agenda for your business.
Whilst many firms are benefiting from agile working, there are potential barriers to overcome when implementing a new way of working. It is often easier to carry on with what is familiar, as any change can be met with resistance. It is therefore essential that key personnel understand and agree with the move towards this new way of working.
Employee contracts may need to be updated to reflect new working arrangements, and firms should ensure insurance policies are reviewed to maintain appropriate cover for the movement of confidential client information between office and home.
Finally, with outdated technology, embracing agile working, will require significant funding and can often be one of the first hurdles to overcome. It is essential that robust planning and forecasting is conducted to ensure both the initial outflow and ongoing commitments can be met without depleting cash reserves.
If you are looking to embrace agile working or thinking of investing in new technology, we can provide the tax advice, guidance on forecasting and HR support your firm requires to move the practice forward.
Simon Tombs is a member of the professional practices team at MHA and an expert in advising law firms on accountancy and financial matters. For further information please contact Simon on 01225 785520 or email [email protected].