WORKing that STYLE


What do HOT, AGILE, FLEXIBLE & SCRUM all have in common? ……No we aren’t talking about Yoga, Rugby or Gorka Marquez from Strictly…. We are going to discuss MODERN WORKING STYLES. 

Lets just get this out here first, I usually shy away from this type of research. When something appears too complicated, which on first impressions seems to be the case here (help!) I get bored and switch off…..No blogging. Basically there seems to be too many titles to describe the same or similar ways of working in this modern world….Totally confusing and utterly unnecessary! So bare with and forgive me for my fabulous copy and pasting skills which can be easily spotted throughout this blog – i.e., The bits that are in bold and intelligently put, I’m just filling the bits in between with my normal drivel.

The world of work is changing

The modern office or purpose built office spaces first made their appearance in the 18th century. This was due to the growth of large organisations like the East India Company and the Royal Navy. Since that time a lot has changed in the world around us but the way in which we work has more or less stayed very much the same. We have mainly worked in offices from 9am until 5pm, at our own desks complete with photos (or paintings) of rosy cheeked kids, holiday pics or cuddles with scruffy mutts (dogs …not family members) for hundreds of years, with no thoughts on changing a single thing to suit different employees.

Today the world of work as we know it is evolving, and that is down to new and advanced technology. Technology today means we can connect and work away from computers that are fixed to desks, we have so much more choice where we work….Freedom awaits!
It seems crazy then that offices were (and still are) set out in the same way. Desks together, providing not much privacy, people were (are) just expected to work with the same efficiency as their neighbour in a disruptive environment.  Not everybody can work productively this way and some find being in a noisy office a challenge to work in… Yep that relates to me and my male co workers…Never known men to chat SO much!


We are seeing businesses small and large designing their workplaces to incorporate a more caring approach to their employees health and well being at work, and are much more willing to work around any family or health issues that their employee may have. More mothers as well as older and disabled highly skilled people who would have previously been excluded from or have found it very difficult to get or stay at work can now work in environments that work WITH them not against them. Just because you have a disability whether visible or invisible doesn’t mean that you cant be a valuable asset to a business!
*Invisible illnesses include MS, mental illnesses and chronic pain. Just because somebody looks healthy that doesn’t mean that they feel healthy. Take a look at our informative and honest account of what its like living with MS HERE



Its no surprise then that happy employees are more productive employees, and workers are more like to be happy and productive if they are able to work in the way that suits them best.

What is the Modern Working Environment?

The Modern Working Environment is the term given to the broad range (agreed!) of ways working spaces are being designed for present day and the future. Offices are being respectfully designed and managed with people of all abilities in mind, empowering them to work in a way that suits them, as well as what is beneficial to a company’s success.

“Today’s workforce feels the need to learn new skills every day to find their way in this changing terrain. Companies have two options: resist the change (and fall behind). Or embrace the new paradigm and keep pace with the rest of the world. Survival of the fittest depends on being able to adapt.”

The way in which workplaces are changing can vary, and I’m not too sure the trending and super modern way of letting workers bring their pets into work makes people work more efficiently but it will appear that your workplace is turning into a more accommodating one, and its nice and relaxing to have a quick fluff ball cuddle…Staff wellbeing and all that.
At Millar West this is the norm and we usually have Buffy the resident curly cockapoo (which if you haven’t noticed seem to be taking over the world)  visit us for a whole day every week. She is very well behaved and we love her coming in to see us, although I’m fed up with standing on her treats which seem to end up under my desk…nice. Also past canine visitors have not been as good…….One pooch decided to toilet in the showroom 3 times, thank goodness our premises were customer free at the time…Ewww. I too am the owner of a cockapoo who is a delight and would take to work if needed. My other dog is a little cross breed who although very cute and cuddly is extremely hyperactive, loud and barks at everything. Even leaves moving in the trees set her off…..She is never coming in!
Another way to appear kind and considerate would be to allow babies/kids into work for a few hours. These little bundles would surely have to be on their best behaviour. Who wants a tiny human screaming down the office? Or sticky fingers all over the place? Although we get that here anyway most weeks with our MD’s doughnut obsession!

Once again Millar West are very accommodating (gold medal for us) on this front, and I have been told on many occasions that I could bring in my littlest when he has been off school, no sick bugs or flu obviously. I have never taken this invitation up however, I would much prefer to stay at home and look after my not so little bundle whist watching Phil & Holly laugh endlessly at their own gaffs. But better than this I like to write my blogs, and this here is a great example of  being able to work from home if need be, and is known as Flexible Working which we will discuss below.



Lets look at some of the main ways in which our working environment is changing.




A bit of Hot Desking with Gorka


“Is a way of saving office space in which workers do not have their own desk and are only given a desk when they need it. Hot-desking allows a company to have significantly smaller premises.”

Hot desking actually comes under the term Agile Working style, but as its such a buzz word in the working world we will just briefly look at what it actually involves.
I dont know about you but until I had researched a bit about these working styles I really didn’t know anything about them. It all seemed too complex for my perimenopausal fogged brain to understand…….Actually I lie, hot desking I have heard of and that’s not because of the 90’s film Disclosure with Demi Moore, the term hot desking crops up in our day to day office chat, and being an office furniture supplier that’s not that surprising really is it…… Also it has been on the scene for a bit now.

Why Hot-desking?

A business will mainly decide to embrace hot desking due to the fact that it saves money. The running costs of an office can be cut by up to 30% when employees work in this way ( less desking and office paraphernalia to purchase and smaller premises to pay for) making it a popular choice. Its believed that not everyone needs their own desk every day that they are at work. With hot desking employers provide simple, tidy desk space that is there for everyone to use when they need it. If staff are moving around then clutter will not get a chance to build up. Lots of companies these days have a clear desk policy, so hot desking is the perfect example of this……Bring all your stuff to work then take it away again!
Another positive side to hot desking is that if you are moving around the office you are getting far more exercise than if you were to stay sitting at the same desk for 8 hours…….Health benefits too! Check out our recent blog on the BENTO box by our friends at Dataflex, which is the perfect portable top drawer for all said stuff if hot desking. The Bento not only stores your bits and bobs it turns into a  laptop stand as well …We love the Bento!
There are however some drawbacks. The fact that some shared spaces aren’t owned by one person can potentially lead to neglect, and therefore mess! Having to find a space, set all your gear up, then packing it all away again can be a bit of a faff for some, even if it takes literally a few minutes. It can also see a drop in staff morale. Yes moving around an office gives workers the chance to talk to more people than they normally would and is great for socialising, but for some this also creates a feeling of not belonging anywhere and not having your own personal space to call  your work-home can make some people feel of less importance.




“Is a way of working in which an organisation empowers its people to work where, when and how they choose, with maximum flexibility and minimum constraints”

When I told my husband (who owns his own company) that I was doing a blog about working styles and explained to him what agile working meant, his first reply was that he had never heard of it and next that it sounded like an excuse to lay outside on a hammock at home with a laptop getting a tan being lazy…..Well yes, that’s sort of true. Surely if you are getting work done in a productive way it doesn’t really matter where you are? Obviously no hammock tanning is going on at his workplace then …..Boring!

What is agile working?

Visualise an open plan office space with hot-desks, office booths, sofas, quiet areas, break out areas with tables and chairs or beanbags, but most importantly the latest technology available for workers to do their job wherever, whenever and however they choose…… This is what an agile working space looks like.
Somewhere quiet for you to work if that makes you more productive, or working with co-workers in close proximity if that is how you prefer to work. Working in a small group in a booth or partitioned space to minimise noise and maximise group focus and power…..Or to  SCRUM  (no not Rugby but a widely-used, agile product development strategy) The choice is yours to become the agile worker you want to be……Unless of course you practice Naturism and naked yoga is your go to thing for being productive, then that is not advisable.

Its recommended that agile working practices should be built around four elements:
  1. when do people work

  2. where do people work?

  3. what do people do?

  4. who is employed?

Its also really important to create a space that ignites creativity and usually our best ideas and solutions to problems pop into our head whilst walking or spending time relaxing outside not in a noisy office. Cue office pods, quiet areas or outside (or inside) gardens. Injecting a bit of fun into your workday is also important, this can be achieved by adding a games area, for example a pool table is a great addition. Also adding plants and greenery to your office space can really make a difference to how staff feel, can lower stress and promote creativity. Click here if you want to know more about BIOPHILIC DESIGN  (plants in the office btw) in one of our other blogs.

Business Benefits :
• Increased productivity and efficiency – by up to 20%
• Space savings
• Reduced property costs
• Reduced cost of fuel and parking
• Extended business hours
• Meeting customer’s expectations
• Ability to match workforce to fluctuating demands
• Better utilisation of skills
• Increased innovation
• Reduction in organisational and personal carbon footprint
• Improved business continuity – less disruption due to weather, office security issues, travel problems etc.
• Improved staff performance
• Ability to attract and retaining high quality talent
• Reduced absenteeism and related costs
• Reduced staff turnover with associated costs and reduction in lost knowledge, skills and experience
• Increased motivation and engagement of staff
Staff Benefits:
• Reduced travel time and related cost
• Personal productivity – fewer distractions, improved focus, concentration, creativity, better use of skills and less frustration linked to fewer barriers
• Improved work life balance
• Increase in wellbeing, health and happiness – reduced stress, better sense of control, ability to integrate healthy eating and exercise into the day
• Increased engagement as a result of the autonomy and trust at work
Agile working isn’t for everyone. Of course there are benefits of being able to work anywhere you want but there are also significant costs involved in providing outside office IT support, achieving communications technology and making sure that whilst using mobile work devices any company info isn’t compromised.
If after all my above waffle you still don’t really understand what the heck Agile means then watch this really interesting TED talk video on AGILE WORKING It will get you thinking about the way we have been working for 300 years, and how that way is not the most productive way!



” Is a way of working that suits an employee’s needs, for example having flexible start and finish times, or working from home. All employees have the legal right to request flexible working – not just parents and carers.”

Working flexibly is when you work in a different work pattern to the way you work at the moment. Flexible working is simply a way that fulfills an employee’s needs and which suits them best i.e., working from home or having flexible start and finish times. Also all employees have the legal right to request flexible working, not just parents and carers. But employees must have worked for at least 26 weeks with the same employer to be eligible to make a statutory application for flexible working.
Flexible working is perfect for highly skilled individuals, who may have disabilities and find it hard to travel to work. Working from home will save them time, money and the stress of travelling as well as saving the environment the addition of more car fumes! If we could all stay at home a few days a week to work think about how much money would be saved on travel, and in turn your employer could eventually have smaller premises with fewer desks. The perfect environment for hot desking!
Watch this quick video which explains a bit more about  FLEXIBLE WORKING

So whats the difference between Agile and Flexible working?

Flexible and Agile working seem very similar and certainly have overlapping elements. Flexible working is geared towards benefiting the employee usually at a cost to the employer whereas Agile working is mainly all about getting the most out of your employees and saving money.
Flexible working arrangements may include:
  • changing from full-time to part-time work
  • changing the part-time hours that you work, for example, from weekends to week days
  • changing working hours to fit in with, for example, school hours, college hours or care arrangements
  • compressed hours, that is, working your usual hours in fewer days
  • flexitime, which allows you to fit your working hours around agreed core times
  • home working for part or all of the time
  • job sharing
  • self-rostering. This is most often found in hospitals and care services. You put forward the times you would like to work. Once staff levels and skills are worked out, the shift pattern is drawn up matching your preferences as closely as possible
  • shift working
  • staggered hours, these allow you to start and finish your days at different times. This is often useful in the retail sector where it is important to have more staff over the lunchtime period but fewer at the start and end of the day
  • time off in lieu
  • teleworking
  • annualised hours, this means that working time is organised around the number of hours to be worked over a year rather than over a week. Annualised hours work best when there is a rise and fall in workload during the year.
  • term-time work, so you don’t work during the school holidays.

A perfect example of flexible working is my job. With blogging and marketing apparently being my specialist subject (even though I suffer from impostor syndrome sometimes) and if my son is off school or I cannot make it into work for any reason then I could easily work from home on my work laptop….Possibly with even more work getting done!…Yes I’m talking about you, chatty office men. Maybe I could even just work from home?…….I think I need to talk to the boss man about this, I’m entitled to it right?!
This (above) all sounds lovely if my kids were smaller and couldn’t talk or I wanted to bring my dog to work….Which as discussed earlier I DO NOT. But above things are being taken too far. Who in their right minds wants their family at work? Husband knowing how many tea breaks I have and how much unrelated work chat is actually going on in an average day…..Er no thanks. Kids asking a zillion questions, touching everything and coming out with all sorts of embarrassing comments about my bathroom habits at home or ‘oh is Derek the one who you think smells mum?….. In front of Derek (this was an example we do not have a Derek at our work) So Millar West however friendly and accommodating will hopefully not be taking part in this any time soon…..Maybe we can just have more ‘Bring doughnuts to work days’ instead.

So whatever style is perfect for you …..WORK IT  baby!  

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