IN THIS SUMMARY
In today's volatile and unpredictable economy, corporate agility is a prerequisite for success. Consequently, traditionally managed companies which are plagued by excess real estate; costly, inflexible labor forces; and lengthy, complicated product cycles, are merely awaiting their demise. Agile organizations that can effectively respond to external needs and changes while concurrently creating new products and markets faster than their competitors place themselves in an ideal position to thrive. In Corporate Agility, Charles E. Grantham, James P. Ware, and Cory Williamson describe how to transform any organization into an agile leader. Using research and case studies as a foundation, they propose a collaborative strategic management approach to achieve this end. This approach leverages the interdependence of information technology (IT), human resources (HR), and corporate real estate (CRE) to achieve optimal results. In today's volatile international business landscape, companies face three major challenges. First, businesses in the 21st century must reduce fixed operating costs. A reduction in fixed costs enhances corporate agility because it allows businesses to quickly and purposely allocate resources in response to unexpected changes in market conditions. The second major challenge involves attracting and retaining quality employees. The need for qualified employees continues to surpass the number available, and it has been estimated that by 2010 the United States will have 10 million more jobs than it will have qualified applicants to fill them. Finally, institutionalizing innovation is the third major challenge. Most companies that do not institutionalize innovation fail to develop new products and services. Despite strong evidence supporting a more distributed workforce at addressing these challenges, adoption rates remain relatively low. Although distributed work may not be a good fit for every job or department, it is both logical and inevitable that companies consider how this style of work might fit within their organization. The authors describe six reasons why companies should establish distributed work programs, each of which contributes to corporate agility: Reducing basic workforce support costs. Research has suggested that alternative workplace programs can reduce workforce support costs by up to 40%. Increasing workforce productivity. Studies indicate that distributed workers evidence productivity gains of around 15%, surpassing their office-bound counterparts. Attracting and retaining talent. Highly qualified workers are increasingly demanding control over where and when they work. Reducing the business risk of disruption. Because employees of distributed companies are not tied to a central facility, continuity of business is maximized in the face of local disasters or emergencies. Reducing traffic congestion, air pollution, and the impact of business on the environment. If every company in a major city required its employees to work from home once weekly, transportation-related energy consumption would decrease by 20%. Moving work to where the workforce wants to live. A distributed workforce program attracts talent and allows companies to recruit over broader geographical areas. Based on research, the authors propose a methodology for maximizing corporate agility. First, a task force of executives from HR, IT, and CRE should be established. Next, everyone must understand and operate from the same level of group functioning and the same strategic goals. A statement of the business problem and specification of desired results is also essential. Additionally, a task force should be designated to define a new workplace strategy following four steps: 1) assessment, 2) recommendation, 3) implementation, and 4) evaluation. This collaborative strategic management process must be conducted continuously in order to reinvent the business and remain agile over time.