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How to make the professional services sector even more agile

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13 October 2016

Global Services

Blogs by author: Global Services, We’re a leading global business communications provider

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Professional services organisations are trailblazers in agile working and collaboration. But even they’re not as productive as they could be.

There’s always room for improvement.

We talk a lot about how agile working can transform organisations. We talk about the cost savings they can make. We talk about how it can boost productivity. And we talk about how it provides companies with a more sustainable way to drive growth.

But when it comes to the professional services sector, organisations know the score. They already know that agile working… works.

That doesn’t always mean they get it right, however. Despite employing a high proportion of knowledge workers, who are used to completing tasks both in and out of the office, professional services organisations could still get more from agile working. And that means overcoming two important challenges.

Managing the managers.

The first challenge is dealing with management — specifically how to get managers to foster a positive agile-working environment. Most people have had (or still have) a manager who likes to see everyone while they’re working. It’s an easy way to make sure that stuff is getting done. They can see productivity happening right in front of them.

So what happens when agile-working practices take half a workforce out of the office? Many managers start to feel uncomfortable, as if they are losing control over their workloads. They can even wander into the realm of monitoring tools.

However, what these managers don’t realise is that a high-performing team requires leadership and trust, along with the right tools and working atmosphere. And if managers don’t create this environment, they’ll only succeed in undermining the positives agile working can bring to their organisations.

Switching between the modes.

The second challenge is the workforce itself. There’s no point in managers setting up agile working systems if people can’t identify (and use) the working environments that suit them best in any given situation.

To this end, workers have to be aware of their different modes of working if they’re to be as productive as they can be. These include:

• Collaborative mode — occurs when meeting with other team members, either face-to-face or virtually. In this mode, people should seek out spacious, dynamic spaces to help them make effective decisions.
• Focused task time mode — occurs when people need to concentrate without distractions. This is when people work best away from the office.
• Administrative task time mode — occurs when doing routine tasks like reporting or dealing with emails. Shared spaces work well for this mode, with breaks for social interaction becoming a boost to productivity.

Recognising and reacting to these modes means people can choose the right environment for any task — a vital part of how agile working boosts productivity.

Tooling up for the task in hand.

Overcoming these challenges is difficult — even for professional services organisations used to agile working. But it’s a task made easier by bringing in the right tools for the job. Just as people need the right environment to work productively, they also need the right technology to support them.

Discover more about how you can make sure your people have the collaboration technology they need to work from anywhere. And find out more about how to create the right environment for agile working in your organisation with Dr Nicola Millard’s ‘Collaboration Conundrum’ white paper.

You can also join us for our exclusive round-table dinner at BT Tower on 19 October.

Hosted by Collaboration Vice President Andrew Small, and featuring former England rugby star Austin Healey, the event is your chance to hear our latest market research results (and gain an insight into the world of elite sport). Sign up now to avoid missing a great night.