Small Business FAQs


1. What is the difference between flexible working and agile workforce?

Workforce agility allows an organisation to establish the optimal workforce to support an organisation’s objectives. We define agile working practices along four dimensions:

• Time: when do they work? (E.g. part-time working; staged retirement)

• Location: where do they work? (E.g. people working across multiple sites)

• Role: what do they do? (E.g. multi-skilling)

• Source: who is employed? (E.g. using contractors or temps)

Flexible working has traditionally been defined somewhat narrowly: usually as a benefit for employees and a cost to employers. We believe that agile practices can be configured to generate value for both the employer and the employee.

Another key difference for the Agile Future Forum members is that we firmly believe that agile working initiatives should NOT be projects sat with HR – instead creating an agile workforce should be seen as a valuable business tool for people running businesses who are interested in the bottom line.

2. What are the goals and objectives of the Agile Future Forum?

Our ambition therefore is to define the business value of workforce agility in supporting the competitiveness of UK plc and provide the leadership and practical support required to increase agile working practices across UK plc.

We aim to achieve this purpose by:

  • Change UK cultural mindset: from flexibility to agility
  • Support the increase of agile working practices across the UK
  • Position the UK as one of the most agile countries in the world
3. I am a small business owner – will the AFF findings help me with some of my day to day business challenges?

The methodology will help support all businesses regardless of their size. It has been developed to help all organisations think about their business needs, the profile of their employees and what the optimum workforce would look like utilising an extensive range of agile working practices.

Based on the work we have completed with smaller businesses we believe:

  • Small businesses operate workforces which are easier to flex around business needs as they tend to have fewer policy and procedural constraints
  • They are also able to be more personal’ with their employees without the need to find solutions that work on a wide scale
  • Reduced scale can be a significant determinant of the kinds of practices that can add value e.g. an office-based small business that has only 11 employees would not delivery a tangible saving in premises costs if they introduced a home-working policy for 1 or 2 of the employees
  • Retention of specific individuals is often very important, since small businesses make significant investments in recruitment and bespoke training
  • Agility is thus often negotiated at an individual level can I get involved with the AFF and utilise the work they have completed?

All of the AFF’s research, business tools and case studies are free of charge and can be accessed via the AFF website in the ‘Tools and Research’ section

5. Can I get further help to create a more agile workforce?

If you would like to attend an event or get further support please contact one of the AFF Affiliates.

6. If my company is interested in creating a more agile workforce how could we take it forward?
7. How does the Agile Future Forum work? How is it funded?

The AFF is a not for profit collaboration with members from a wide variety of sectors, geographical locations and company sizes. The AFF relies upon its members ideas and contributions to deliver new product and research.

8. Which of the AFF members are SMEs?

We have three very different SMEs involved in the forum; MTM Products Ltd, a manufacturing company, Rufus Leonard, a creative agency and Norman Broadband, an executive search agency. To see their case studies and here from their CEOs just click on the company names or to here directly from Ian Greenaway, MTM Products Ltd click on the video link here; MTM Video

The Agility Mindset

The Agility Mindset uniquely presents and defines the business value of workforce agility in the UK for the first time. Written by Fiona Cannon OBE, one of the UK’s most eminent workplace diversity experts, The Agility Mindset presents an unrivalled wealth of unique research, opinions and practical solutions from leading business leaders, supported by case studies from organisations across all sectors. For the first time, The Agility Mindset: presents unique research that demonstrates that, in the areas reviewed by the AFF, agile working practices are currently generating value equivalent to 3 – 13% of workforce cost with the opportunity to generate further value equivalent to 3 -7% of workforce costs brings together case studies of real deployments of agile working practices, contributed by CEOs of various AFF members, including Ford of Britain, KPMG, Lloyds Banking Group, ITV, BT and Yorkshire Building Society argues that the productivity gains at a company level achieved by AFF members suggest that more widespread use of agile working practices could lead to improvements in the UK’s productivity Presents  tools, developed by and tested on AFF founder members, to assess the value of agile working practices; including an Agile Readiness Index and the Business Value Assessment (BVA) which uniquely starts with the needs of the organisation, and focuses on quantifying organisational benefits Provides practical advice on how to overcome barriers to the implementation of agile working practices – the majority of which are internal to organisations, and can be resolved or avoided with careful planning Hears from the AFF CEOs and chairmen about the future of work in a volatile, uncertain and complex world where... read more

YBS Group Join The AFF

Agile Future Forum welcomes new member YBS Group, view and download the YBS case study below. YBS Group – John Heaps ” The introduction of a smart working policy is already making a big contribution to the essential relationship of trust that lies at the heart of YBS’s culture. Smart working both reflects the importance placed on colleagues’ well-being and also demonstrates how our trust agenda works in practice positively impacting colleague engagement, reducing absenteeism and increasing the ability to attract the very best talent in a very competitive market.” Download the YBS Group case study... read more

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