Agile working
What is agile working?

Agile working is about managers and staff considering if the work of their teams can be achieved in a more flexible way that allows staff greater scope to work at times and from locations that are preferable to them.

It is about finding ways of working, within certain parameters specific to each team, that increase people’s ability to manage their work-life balance and enhance their wellbeing, while still meeting the objectives of their role. This may require us to challenge our assumptions that certain work must be carried out in a specific location or during certain hours.

Agile working is about managers and staff considering if the work of their teams can be achieved in a more flexible way that allows staff greater scope to work at times and from locations that are preferable to them. It is about finding ways of working, within certain parameters specific to each team, that increase people’s ability to manage their work-life balance and enhance their wellbeing, while still meeting the objectives of their role. This may require us to challenge our assumptions that certain work must be carried out in a specific location or during certain hours.

Agile Working is an informal arrangement that enables a better work-life balance for our people. 

Agile Working is a flexible temporary arrangement and therefore does not require a formal change to terms and conditions and is likely to vary across different teams, roles and projects and over time. More permanent requests to change work arrangements should be treated as flexible working requests

Agile Working can be used in a number of ways – as a short term ‘fix’ for a specific situation, as a medium-term arrangement – perhaps for seasonality (school holidays) or as a long-term work-based methodology where teams always work on an agile basis.

As a leading technological University, we will use technology to maximise opportunities for staff to engage whether they are working remotely or on campus. For example, platforms such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams (when available) will be used to enable those working on campus and those working at home to simultaneously participate in group meetings. It is expected that our use of our physical estate on campus will evolve over time to reflect the agile working patterns we engage in e.g. departments and schools may dedicate more space to shared meeting spaces with audio-visual capability.

While we want to maximise the number of staff who can have the opportunity to work in an agile manner, there will be some University roles that can only be done on campus and at set times and for these colleagues agile working as described in this toolkit will not be possible.

It is worth noting that agile working does not only mean working away from campus. Agile working can take a variety of forms, so it is not possible to provide an exhaustive list of options for staff and managers. The principle behind agile working is to provide opportunities for staff in roles where it makes sense, to work anywhere or at any time, within clearly set parameters.

Agile Working can be used in a number of ways – as a short term ‘fix’ for a specific situation, as a medium-term arrangement – perhaps for seasonality (school holidays) or as a long-term work-based methodology where teams always work on an agile basis.

Pre-requisites

The pre-requisites for a move to agile ways of working include:

  • it must be possible within your role (for example, there will be limited scope to work away from the University in certain customer/student-facing roles or for some Estates colleagues but there may be scope for other forms of flexibility)
  • it must fit with the department / team objectives
  • the member of staff should ensure that they work their contractual hours across the week and the member of staff should be contactable whilst working remotely
  • arrangements must be agreed in advance with your line manager to ensure that the needs of other team members and departmental needs can also be taken into account
  • if it involves you working from home, you must have a safe and comfortable workstation to carry out your work
  • any agile working arrangement should not be detrimental to your wellbeing

Some examples of agile working are outlined in the table below. These are examples only and not definitive arrangements that should be in place:

Agile working exampleExplanation

Variable start and finish times

Amended start and finish times with the intention that staff will work contracted hours over the course of the week*

In varying your start and finish times, you and your fellow team members will need to ensure that parameters set by your team leader are met. Examples of such parameters might include some of the following:

  • there should always be at least two team members in the office between 9am and 5pm and, ideally, between 8am and 6pm. Some team members may choose to start earlier in the day and finish earlier and others start later in the day whilst ensuring appropriate cover is provided during specific hours.
  • all staff need to be contactable between 10am and 4pm.
  • each individual team member needs to be on campus at least twice a week.
  • at least once a fortnight, all team members will meet together.

Note the above parameters are examples and not pre-requisite for all teams.

‘Remote first’ meetings

Using online communication where appropriate and where possible, as an alternative to attending a meeting in person, to ensure that those who work away from the office can participate.

Variable days of working

Amended working days with the intention that staff will work contracted hours over the course of the week. E.g. now and again you may wish to spend time with a parent on a Wednesday afternoon and work on a Saturday afternoon instead.

Working from different locations

Working somewhere other than your usual place of work on an ad hoc (rather than permanent) basis. This could be at home or from another location, for example in the home of someone you care for.

*Many academic professional staff who do not have defined contractual hours, will already be working agilely. If this is not the case, then agile working as outlined in this document will still be available, focusing on delivering the outputs required of the role. Further information on this is set out in the FAQs.