The best workplace is, by any sensible definition, not merely a place of work, but the place in which people work ‘most efficiently’. And according to recent research, a whole range of factors is fundamentally shifting the very perception of what that means. In short, changing workplace dynamics demand a complementary change in technological and HR thinking…
Workplace. As familiar a word as it is to us all, it’s also kind of a strange one when you think about it.
Where should the stress be placed for instance? On the work or on the place?
It also feels a bit old-fashioned and autocratic for some reason. A bit too close to the Dickensian workhouse perhaps?
It carries other stubbornly ingrained connotations too. Ask the average person to picture a ‘workplace’ and they’ll most likely envisage something fairly specific. An office, a shop, a warehouse, a factory.
Then again though, maybe they wouldn’t. Because if current research is to be believed times, and attitudes, are changing where the workplace is concerned – and faster than many might have predicted.
The prime reason for this appears to be the fact that, driven largely by an ongoing and accelerating evolution in mobile and collaborative technologies, workers – and tasks – are becoming increasingly ‘untethered’ from fixed, physical locations.
A recent study from serviced-office provider IWG, for instance, found that 70% of professionals now work remotely at least one day per week, while 53% work remotely half the week or more.
Another, this one from research firm Global Workplace Analytics and recruitment company FlexJobs, found 3.9 million US workers were telecommuting at least half of the time in 2015, next to just 1.8million in 2005, an increase of 115%.
Another still comes from CEBR (Centre for Economics & Business Research), recently commissioned by Lenovo to survey over 2,000 UK workers on their on-site and remote working patterns. The resulting report makes some surprising revelations suggesting that workplace dynamics are undergoing a dramatic shift.
Almost three in five roles are now suited to remote working for example. 25% of people would choose to work remotely if they could. A similar number would like to work from home more often. 1 in 10 reach peak performance outside standard working hours.
This is leading employees to ask some searching questions about the businesses they choose to work for. Where should I ‘work’? When should I work? Is that flexible? Is ‘nine-to-five’ dead? Does all this change what I should look for in an employer? And what they will look for in me?
The report also makes a number of practical recommendations for those organisations looking to evolve their workplace practices and policies.
Less travel = more performance
Swapping commuting time for working time increases output considerably.
With six UK workers in ten eligible for remote working, the opportunity is clear.
Listen & understand
Output can be indirectly improved by consulting with employees and listening to their wants and needs such as better work-life balance and opportunities to work at their own ‘peak times’ rather than to standardised working hours. Flexibility is now crucial in attracting and retaining the best talent.
Resource over attendance
Both the survey and the businesses participating suggested remote, flexible working as key in a well-honed HR strategy, as did their employees. If output is increased, objectives are hit, and employees are happy, physical attendance becomes almost an irrelevance.
Designs on the modern office
While designated working areas are becoming less of a necessity, collaboration spaces are increasingly essential; working spaces, collaborative tools, spaces to chat and workshop.
Technology is key
IT standardisation is crucial in minimising time wastage. Training was also cited as key, with employees citing an increase among their main workplace priorities.
Vivi la difference
It is also important for organisations to be aware of the different ‘communities’ on staff – older generations often being more sensitive to technological change while younger team members to perceptions as regards ‘presenteeism’.
The message is clear. What do you need to ensure smarter, more efficient remote working? A smarter office.