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The A to Z of Agile Working – An Agile Working Dictionary

The A to Z of Agile Working – An Agile Working Dictionary

An Agile Working Dictionary – Agile Working Terms Explained

There are a lot of acronyms and used in Agile Working, which can be very confusing.  Here is a simple dictionary of the most often used terms to help demystify and understand agile working.

Agile Working TermDescription
Activity Based Working (ABW)Working in a place that is designed for, and best suited for, the activity you are currently performing. Usually associated with the design of an office with multiple work-settings to support different tasks. Sometimes used instead of Agile Working.
Agile DevelopmentNot to be confused with agile working in a workplace sense, agile working or agile development from an IT perspective describes an approach to software development under which requirements and solutions evolve through the collaborative effort of cross-functional teams. Often associated with agile scrums – the cross functional development team itself. The need to get keep agile scrums together often is at odds with a flexible office design.
Agile WorkingAlso called smart working, better ways of working and new ways of working. A way of working that is independent of time or place. Employees work in the place and at the time most appropriate for the task in hand to suit the demands of their role and the outcomes needed.
Beach TowellingThe practice of placing items on a desk or other work-setting to reserve it for use whilst the individual is away. When done on a permanent basis it is also called “nesting”.
Clear Desk PolicyClearing the desk being used for at the end of the day or when away from the desk for a lengthy period to free up the desk for use by others. An essential policy if desk sharing is part of the agile working model that needs to be monitored and managed.
Desk SharingA less contentious term for hot desking (see Hot desking)
Flexi TimeBeing able to change your usual working hours. Often associated with the ability to flex around core hours but being monitored around delivery of the hours in a full working week (e.g.. working a 9-day fortnight) Again, in our view, other than the need to service customers, flexibility should be down to the individual and the focus should not be on the hours worked but the outcomes delivered (see Outcome Management). Everyone should ideally be empowered to work the hours needed for the role and their personal circumstances.
Flexible WorkingThe ability to work flexibly within one office location as a necessary extension of desk sharing. The flexible worker will work in the most appropriate work setting within the office deepening upon the task at hand. It can also be the ability to flex your hours to adapt to the demands of the role.
Home WorkerSomeone who is designated to work from home either permanently or for specific days of the week.
Home WorkingA form of remote working, specifically undertaken in your home. This can be on an ad-hoc basis to suit the task in hand or as a designated “home worker”.
Home Zone / Neighbourhood / VillageAn approach to the allocation of space within an agile office environment. This is the policy of grouping similar teams who ideally work together or share common facilities into a zone with shared desks and other work settings often with desks allocated on a ratio to the whole group rather than allocating desks to a specific team.
Hot Desking / Desk SharingDesks are not allocated to individuals but to a team or group of teams on a shared basis, often to a predefined ratio. Usually a constituent part of any agile working policy to make better use of desks and free up space for other more appropriate work-settings.
Hub or Centre of GravityAllied to the neighbourhood model, this is allocating each team a designated point (a hub or centre of gravity) within the neighbourhood. Often where a team’s specific storage is located and where the team generally congregate when in the office.
Mobile WorkerSomeone whose primary location is the office but works remotely from the main office on a regular basis due to the demands of the job role. They may visit the main office from time to time.
Mobile WorkingWorking from one office location (base) but also working remotely from the main office on a regular basis due to the demands of the job role. Usually a combination of remote working and, when in the office, flexible working.
NestingThe practice of claiming a shared desk as ones own and placing personal items, filing and other items to deter or prevent others from using it.
New Ways of WorkingThe original name for Agile Working.
OutcomeA desired result of a task or group of tasks undertaken by a team member, either in isolation or with others.
Outcome or Output ManagementA focus on managing the employee by the outcome of the task not the hours present in an office. Sometimes also called a results orientated management. An important management style in managing flexible and mobile teams.
Post Occupancy Evaluation (PoE)The process of measuring the performance of the workplace. This can be done in a variety of ways such as online staff satisfaction surveys (see PeopleLOOK), utilisation surveys and measures such as occupancy cost, space allocation and indirect measures like absenteeism and attrition rates.
PresenteeismThe practice of coming into the office when unwell or working long hours when tired or no longer productive. A culture of presenteeism is often encouraged by managers and staff feel they will be considered a poor worker or not loyal if they take time off when unwell or leave work.
Remote Worker(also called a Nomad or Field Worker) – someone who works away from the office for most of the time only coming to the office if required for meetings or other tasks.
Remote Working(also called Teleworking or Telecommuting) – working away from the office often remotely from the rest of your team, can include home working. People who work remotely in multiple locations, only visiting the main office occasionally are often called remote workers, field workers or nomads.
Resident WorkerSomeone who job role means that the most appropriate place for them to work is in the regular office location. They should however adopt flexible working principles when in the office.
Results Orientated Working Environment (ROWE)The practice of managing and rewarding people purely by outcome. In a ROWE environment you don't have to work any set hours or in a set location as long as you deliver the required results and outcomes of your job role.
Smart WorkingAnother term for Agile Working, often used in conjunction with with fundamental work process reviews to effect significant change in not just how people work but the activities performed and work flows.
Space Utilisation SurveyA survey measuring the utilisation of desks, other work settings and meeting areas. These can be done either manually, with tablet based survey systems or of longer term or permanent monitoring using sensors. (See SpaceLOOK Utilisation Surveys).
Tele working / TelecommutingWorking remotely but often regularly connected with the rest of the team via telephone or video call.
Third PlaceSomewhere a remote worker works other than their designated office base or their home. Could be another office, a clients or partners office or anywhere else such as a coffee shop.
UtilisationThe level of usage of a work setting or work station. Often measured as a combination of occupancy (someone physically present) and signs of life (a desk with someone's personal effects equipment present rendering it unusable be other - see Beach Towelling). Typically the peak utilisation is an non agile office is around 50 to 55%.
Work-settingDifferent areas or types of furniture within a working environment to support different tasks such as traditional desks, touchdown areas, quiet pods, phone booths, collaboration areas and different types of meeting space (both formal and informal, enclosed and open). Each work-setting needs appropriate facilities (furniture, audio visual equipment and IT) to support its intended use. An “alternative work-setting” often refers to work-settings other than desks / workstations.
ZoneAn area of a workplace with a particular work-setting or a range of work settings.

This dictionary represents our view of the most often used terms however other different definitions may also be used for the terms above.

Further Baker Stuart Guides

Agile Working Series

Office Design and Space Planning Series


About the AuthorColin Stuart bakerstuartColin Stuart is a specialist in workplace consultancy and accommodation strategy. He has an award winning track record in the design and delivery of workplace transformation projects. A published author and speaker with an intrinsic knowledge of the drivers of corporate clients both in the public and private sector and how property can respond to those drivers in order to deliver maximum benefit to the business he has delivered major change programmes and real estate projects in both the public and private sector.
About Baker StuartBaker Stuart are a specialist consultancy who provide a range of innovative services to occupiers. Being focused solely on the workplace this has allowed us to develop expertise in depth in the analysis of our Clients' businesses, the creation and delivery of effective real estate strategies and corresponding office environments. We provide a range of consultancy services including workplace analysis, workplace consultancy, accommodation strategy, project & programme management, project procurement, furniture consultancy, contract administration, design management, change management and relocation consultancy. We have an award winning track record and have helped businesses both public and private sector, from SMEs to multinationals to use the working environment as a catalyst to drive positive behavioural change.

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Disclaimer: This article is intended as a guide only, to give you general information and a general understanding of the topics.  We strive to provide you with accurate information that can help you learn more about the topics covered on the website, but we cannot take personal or legal responsibility for your use of this information. We do not warrant the accuracy of any of the information contained in this article or elsewhere on our website and you should always check the latest official publications and seek the advice of a suitably qualified professional.

Colin Stuart
Colin Stuart is the founding Director of Baker Stuart and has more than 25 years’ experience in workplace analytics and consultancy. With a passion for creating spaces that work for people but based on evidence not on conjecture, Colin has helped deliver significant cost reductions whilst improving business performance and staff satisfaction.
About Baker Stuart

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