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Consider employee 'personality types' when implementing agile working

Employers must consider the personality types present in their workforce when implementing an agile working strategy, according to research by the Employers Network for Equality and Inclusion (Enei).

Enei carried out the research with almost 600 employees and managers in six large companies. It asked them to complete ways of working questionnaires and a personality profile questionnaire based on the DiSC personality test, which profiles individuals into the dominant, influential, steadfast and conscientious types.

The Research Report on Agile Working, Personality and Performance states that the various personality types have different needs when it comes to moving to an agile working environment.

For example, it found that dominant employees are most likely to enjoy the control available by agile working, and will be focused, needing minimal supervision or interaction. Influential workers may require stronger management and direction and more regular communication, while steadfast employees may find agile working harder to adapt to. Conscientious personality types may need supervision to make sure they don’t work too many hours.

Influential and conscientious personality types were more likely to believe agile working has a negative impact on team working, with 33% and 20% respectively feeling this way. Influential employees are also more likely to feel agile working has a negative impact on productivity and efficiency.

Overall, while agile workers are more likely to believe performance improves with agility, line managers are less positive. For example, while 86% of employees said agile working improves productivity and 82% said it improves efficiency, only 61% and 55% of managers felt the same.

The research also found that performance was more likely to be rated exceptional if the agile working was employee- rather than employer-led.

Enei advised organisations to focus on the factors that contribute to effective performance for agile working such as:

  • The provision of laptop computers
  • Good remote access to files
  • Application systems that work well when used remotely
  • Fast, reliable networks

Enei chief executive Denise Keating said there was a “clear business case for agile working”, but that “simply selling the office building and sending workers home is not enough”.

“Our research identified many factors required to achieve these benefits, including IT infrastructure, identification of individual employee needs, and the challenge of maintaining communication and teamwork when workers are physically distanced,” she said.