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
4. 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.

5. If my company is interested in creating a more agile workforce how could we take it forward?

Take a look at our case studies and our agility tool kit.

6. 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.

7. 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 Broadbent, an executive search agency. To hear directly from Ian Greenaway, MTM Products Ltd, click on the video link here; MTM Video

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