My Bookshelf: The Agile Workforce and Workplace

The Agile Workforce and Workplace: Flex Primer for the New Future of Work
By Karol Rose and Lori Sokol, Ph.D.
Working Mother Media, New York, NY (2011)

Reviewed by Jim Ware

There have been thousands of books, articles, speeches, and blog posts in recent years on how to implement flexible work. Some of those sources have even been useful. But The Agile Workforce and Workplace, by Karol Rose and Lori Sokol, is by far the most comprehensive, and the most practical, guide I have found to date.

As readers of this newsletter know, I have spent much of my career campaigning for flexible work. In recent years my focus has been on Alternative Workplace Strategies (AWS) and managing remote workers, but that is only because I believe there are very practical physical, social, and technological challenges that must be addressed to make flexible work a reality.

I have a deep passion about making flexible work a reality for millions of people around the world. Most organizations make terrible use of human talent. All too often they still treat people like interchangeable parts in some grand machine, and fail completely to take individual differences, and personal needs, into account. The result is a tragic waste of human capital and loss of potential productivity, to say nothing of the poor treatment of people and the prevention of work/life integration. It’s simply got to change, both for the good of society and for the health of the economy.

And that is why I recommend this book.

Rose and Sokol have compiled a very practical guide that is full of real-world stories, hands-on tips, and tangible checklists and worksheets. If you want to build the case for flexible work in your own organization, and then make it happen, you need to make The Agile Workforce and Workplace your daily companion.

The book was prepared for the Working Mother Research Institute, with active sponsorship from Cardinal Health, Merck, State Street Bank, and Novartis. It includes detailed stories about flexible work programs at Royal Dutch Shell, Pitney Bowes, Pepsico, McKesson, Proctor & Gamble, and many other familiar organizations.

Here’s what Ted Childs, Retired Vice President of Global Workforce Diversity at IBM and a long-time friend of the authors, had to say about the book and the importance of flexible work programs:

We need our leaders—business, government, and institutional—to be innovative in both their thinking, and their execution, in addressing the flexibility needs of their people. They must be driven by pursuit of the “What is possible?” question, and not satisfied with “what was, or is.”

This book is about helping them to have the mindset today to pursue the “What is possible?” question to facilitate tomorrow’s behavior—not because they are curious, but because they understand that doing so is a strategic, survival necessity, and because they realize that we have only scratched the surface in our flexibility dialog….Karol [and Lori] [do] it masterfully in this discussion of yesterday’s and today’s workplace, and marketplace, and in so doing tomorrow’s everyplace.

The book addresses flexibility from a wide variety of perspectives, including talent attraction and retention, technology, business continuity, facilities planning, employee wellness, legal and compliance issues, and assessing flexibility’s business value. In short, it’s a comprehensive guide that tells you not just why flexible work is so important, and so beneficial, but how to make it a reality in your own organization.

I am confident you will find The Agile Workforce and Workplace a sound investment, and a valuable companion as you create the future of work in your own organization.

What do you think? Please send your comments directly to me or post a comment online. I want to help you and your organization make flexible work a reality (and that includes an offer to introduce you to Karol Rose and to Flexpaths, her firm).

© Copyright 2012 by The Future of Work…unlimited. All rights reserved

3 replies
  1. Lori Sokol
    Lori Sokol says:

    Thank you for the above review of my book. It continues to receive kudos from a variety of firms, big and small, which I believe is simply due to many of the reasons you cite above. We worked to create a book that was comprehensive, detailed and easy-to-use, and hope that other firms will learn the benefits of incorporating the flexible work programs provided by the firms highlighted within the book.
    Lori Sokol, Ph.D.

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