Understanding and reducing tensions between clinical and non-clinical staff in the NHS, in relation to agile working

Emma Russell, Smadar Cohen-Chen and Jay McCloskey (2023)

To meet the people promise that ‘we work flexibly’, the NHS has been active in rolling out agile working arrangements to help staff change how, when and where they work, to fit in with individual circumstances and changing organisational needs. Agile working arrangements work best when they are customised at a team or individual level, but this can give rise to resentment amongst staff, especially if workers view some groups as benefitting from more advantageous agile ‘deals’. Since the more widespread application of agile working, following the Covid-19 lockdowns, the NHS has reported that tensions have been emerging between clinical and non-clinical workers in respect of their different agile working arrangements. Concerned to understand what is causing this tension, and what can be done to assuage this, this research programme was co-developed between academic researchers at the University of Sussex’s agiLab, and practitioners and trade-union representatives within the NHS. The research programme aimed to: identify, understand and address how and why interpersonal tensions arise amongst clinical and non-clinical staff in the NHS, in relation to their agile working arrangements.

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