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Design Engineer

Agile Working – The Design Engineers View

Stewart Jackson, Associate Director

Agile Working – The Design Engineers View

Whilst agile working is by no means a new concept, it is fair to say that the Covid-19 Pandemic had a significant impact on employers’ policies and attitudes towards agile working and changed the landscape at a much greater pace than expected.

Employers in our sector are now faced with another determining factor they have to consider when recruiting for talent in an already challenging market with the key questions being:

  1. Are we flexible enough in relation to the market to attract talent?

  2. How big a deciding factor is it really for job seekers?

  3. Does it work for our business model?

  4. How well equipped are we to lead and manage an agile working business?

To help understand this further we recently ran a large-scale survey to Design Engineers we have in our network and would like to share with you some of the results and insights we have seen.


Two-thirds of the candidates surveyed reported they worked for an employer with some form of agile working in place with 26% of these working fully remotely and 51% working two or three days from home per week.

Straight away here we can see the majority of the employers in the market have shifted towards offering home working flexibility. A balance of “3 and 2” either home or office is by far the most popular approach from employers.

If you’re in the third of employers not offering any agile working, how much of the marketplace are you ruling out when recruiting?


100% of agile workers said it made them feel better about their employer with 68% stating it had a very positive affect on their attitude towards their employer.

As you can see the agile working being offered is unanimously supported by employees and in most cases having a very positive impact in employee engagement. The engagement of engineers is crucial to employers whilst competition for talent is so high and we would tend to think this can only lead to better staff retention.


53% of employees working agile felt they were very effective working from home with only 10% feeling they were less effective than if in the office.

There are a number of individual factors to consider for employees working at home including:

  • Is the home set up fit for purpose?

  • Does their experience level allow them to work effectively without direct supervision?

  • Is working on an isolated basis good for them personally?

However, the majority of employees felt they were as effective or highly effective when working from home with potentially less distractions then being in a busy office and generally feeling empowered by the trust their employer has placed in them.


The biggest positive factors for homeworking were stated as:

  • 42% - less time and money commuting

  • 32% - better work life balance

  • 24% - felt more productive

It is no surprise that in a time of soaring costs that less expense getting to work is a significant factor for employees coupled with the fact that can their days work done in less time without the requirement for a potential 30 minute to 1 hour commute to and from work.

The work life balance upside can cover many areas – more time with the family of an evening, flexibility for general life errands, doing some lunchtime exercise to feel refreshed plus countless other activities.


For those without any agile working, 70% said they would like some from their employer with an option for two days working from home being by far the most popular request.

What was interesting further to this was of those without any agile working, 80% said It had little or no impact on their long-term commitment to a business.


It is possible that those in the survey without any agile working have not had the option previously and are just used to that being their normal but as stated the vast majority without it would prefer it from the current employers.


Overall, there were some interesting insights in the information collected. Some form of agile working now appears to be in the majority of the white-collar engineering marketplace with employees very heavily in favour it, sighting numerous benefits and feeling more engaged with their employer.

Have you considered the impact your agile working policy is having on your retention?

How effective agile working is from an employer’s point of view would be a very different question and one we may pose in future. We wonder what perceived benefits employers feel it brings. Do you see a more engaged engineering workforce? Does it bring increased productivity?

All things said, it is without doubt now that agile working is one of the deciding factors for engineers when job seeking. For any employer it’s worth re-visiting questions 3 and 4; Does it work for your business model? How well equipped are you to lead and manage an agile working business?


Is it time to re-visit your agile working policy?

The recruitment marketplace has continued to evolve since many companies began to incorporate agile working during and post Covid 19. If you’re considering re-visiting your agile working policy then get in touch with ATA Recruitment for further expert guidance on how this can impact your business and attracting talent when hiring Design Engineers.