Agile working in the NHS

Agile working is a management style that’s been embraced by organisations in the public sector as well as private sector businesses in recent years. It puts a lot more power into the hands of team members who have much more freedom over than ever before where they work from and the way they do their work.

Think of agile working as a mixture of the answers to the following questions:

  • what do people do on a team?
  • who carries out individual tasks on a team?
  • when do team members work?
  • where do team members work from?

Agile working is not “one-size-fits-all” – under the guidance of a manager, each team is unique in its work practices and it’s characterised by a more fluid division of responsibilities between team members. Agile working is based upon the believe that more traditional, location-based team structures are inherently less responsive, less effective, and less efficient because teams and the individuals on those teams do not have the freedom to innovate nor to balance their work and home lives. Therefore, the motivation of a traditional team is lower creating poorer outcomes.

Many NHS organisations and trusts are moving towards an agile working model. The skills needed to manage agile workers and to produce the required results for an agile team are very different to what you may have been used to as a manager.

The In-House Training Company runs a very successful and highly-thought-of course for NHS managers designed to equip you with the skills and insight you need to constantly deliver the outcomes you want.

What is agile working?

Isn’t agile working just another form of flexible working? Flexible working is defined as the ability to carry out your work in any location you choose. And, as Paul Allsopp, founder of the Agile Organisation points out, this is also a characteristic of agile working but agile working goes further because it “involves doing work differently focusing on performance and outcomes.”

Agile working considers work as an activity rather than work as something which happens at a geographical location. Agile working’s goal is to remove the structures, procedures, and hierarchical barriers that impede productivity. Although it’s not a new concept in itself, it has gained greatly in popularity over the last two decades, so much so that Owen Gough of Instant Offices predicts that seven in ten businesses and organisations will adopt as part of their core modus operandi the principles are agile working (source: Small Business).

The members of a team who would normally work from the same location to produce a certain outcome are no longer restrained by the “need to be there” with agile working. Agile working relies heavily on modern communication technologies to enhance team performance, especially as many members of a team may be working remotely or at a different office location.

Agile working embraces openness and collaboration between team members in the completion of a task and its flexible structure lends itself well to cross-collaboration on task completion. Even more traditional industries resistant to change like accountants and solicitors are embracing agile working because it allows staff to spend less time in the office and more time with clients.

What is agile working’s role in the NHS?

The NHS is an enthusiastic supporter of the principles and practices of agile working because it believes that it allows staff more time and freedom to do what they do best and to introduce innovation and creative ideas into an organisation.

The first roll outs of agile working practices started in the early part of this decade and it has since been enthusiastically embraced by individual trusts, primary care organisations, and wider organisational bodies like NHS England. Managing an agile team requires a different approach and skillset to managing a team which works in the same office at the same location and, in recent years, The In-House Training Company have been approached by various different trusts and individual managers themselves to provide support, guidance, and training on successful agile working team management.


Agile working management training course

All delegates to our agile working course are initially encouraged to question their existing management techniques and to be responsive and open to new ideas, many of which, at first, may seem counter-intuitive.

You will learn the difference (proven in-field within the NHS) between traditional management practices and agile management practices, the underpinnings of which are an understanding of the change in the way your agile working team mates use their time because supervision is not as direct as with a static team. This new approach to working fosters changes in organisational culture and in team members’ mindset and those changes forces you, as a manager, to find different ways of measuring outcomes. We want to show you how your agile working team members will still need and appreciate your guidance and leadership while at the same time focusing on performance method innovation and your recognition of their achievements.

This half-day course is suitable for NHS managers whose team are not always at the same location and for NHS managers whose departments or trusts are rolling out agile working practices.

The course is split into five sections:

  • understanding what agile working is all about,
  • what an agile manager needs to do to manage their particular set of team members, all of whom have their own personalities, drives, and motivations,
  • empowerment, delegation, and trust – the 3 areas an agile manager should focus on,
  • effective communication including new ways to share information, how to manage stakeholder and staff expectations, and how to measure the success of outcomes, concluding with
  • putting together you own personal action plan with a focus on what it is you’ll be doing differently as your team transitions to agile working practices.


Agile working management in the NHS – train with The In-House Training Company

To find out more about our agile working management course here at the In House Training Company, please click here for our course details.

To speak with one of our team, please call 01582 714 285 or email


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