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Workforce Agility: The New Employee Strategy For The Knowledge Economy

Karin Breu, Christopher J. Hemingway, Mark Strathern, David Bridger

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The notion of the agile workforce has been discussed as central to creating the agile organization, which achieves superior environmental responsiveness in contexts of turbulence and change. Previous agility research has focused overly on the organization, paying scant attention to the workforce. This paper addresses a significant gap in agility research by reporting on the first empirical study to examine how the pressures of organizational agility impact upon the workforce. Survey evidence from 515 UK organizations is used for eliciting an initial indicator of workforce agility. The data suggest that agile workforces acquire the five capabilities of intelligence, competencies, collaboration, culture and information systems (IS). From an information technology (IT) perspective the determinants of workforce agility are flexible infrastructure platforms that support the rapid introduction of new IS and the enhancement of IT competencies across the entire workforce. The survey also revealed that information and communications technology applications increase workforce agility most when used for collaborative working.