Companies large and small have embraced new ways of working — and the technology that supports this change.
Through some simple work style changes, and by ensuring workers have their preferred tools to do their jobs, businesses can increase workplace satisfaction while increasing efficiency.
A Plantronics study on common work styles found that only 51 percent of today’s workforce are office-based. This means 49 percent are working more flexibly.
Let’s take a look at how activity-based working can help.
Work Is What You Do, Not Where You Do It
Activity-based working has many names: “flex working,” “agile working” or "smarter working.” Regardless of what you call it, the premise comes down to this: work is what you do, not when or where you do it.
Many organizations have adopted unified communications (UC) in recent years, and these collaboration technologies are an enabler for these flexible work options. UC platforms can integrate with email, show presence across calendar, have click-to-call functionality and ultimately simplify communication and collaboration regardless of time or location.
With the increased mobility enabled by UC, more people can use just their laptop and smartphone to be productive and stay connected from locations outside the office. Smarter working is about giving people greater freedom and flexibility to work however, whenever and wherever they want to, using whatever device is preferred, to get the job done.
Catering to Flexible Work Styles
These changes carry over to the physical design of offices, too. To accommodate flexible workers, businesses are redesigning their offices to include hoteling areas, huddle rooms and open workspaces. They’re also providing a choice to the employee of which business technology they prefer to use.
But flexibility and new technologies have some related challenges as well. In its study, "The Always-On Economy," Oxford Economics found that employees crave a distraction-free environment and the ability to create their own productive workspaces anywhere. And, they want full access to the tools that would make this possible.
Creating a quiet environment or escaping a noisy one topped free food and other novel amenities in importance for employees, and should be prioritized when designing the office layout and planning for collaboration technology. This encourages both team collaboration and individual quiet space to work.
Businesses that offer smarter working options are seeing benefits, too. For example, since you don’t need to accommodate your entire workforce from 9-5, you can reduce your physical corporate footprint and adjust your corporate environment to align with your company’s working style. It can also act as a great recruiting and retention strategy.
Prospective employees tend to be attracted to companies that offer flexible work styles and choice when it comes to the technology they work with. Prospects view employers that offer this as a sign of respect and trust.
We’ve come into a time where employees are evaluated based on their quality of work, rather than visibility in the office.
Is Smarter Working Right for Your Company?
If you are looking at a move toward smarter working for your organization:
Ask yourself “How will smarter working achieve my company’s objectives?” Since smarter working might involve a major company culture shift, you would need buy-in from the C-suite, as it will affect all lines of business. Whether your reasoning is helping the company become more competitive, or keeping your employees happy and engaged, you must present a strong case on what you ultimately aim to achieve.
- Conduct regular education and training with management to help them realize the benefits of a flexible approach to work. Many existing leadership teams don’t believe in people working remotely. It’s crucial to educate your team on how this can be a win-win for both businesses and people.
- Determine whether your organization has the technology to support flexible work styles. Having the right communication methods, like those a UC platform can provide, is essential. Also, take a detailed look at the different roles in your company and determine who should be offered flexible working, which in turn will determine the tools they need to do their job. When implementing smarter working, a “one-size fits all” approach rarely fits the bill.
Smarter working is a trend that is here to stay. By adjusting your organization’s work environment and providing the technology solutions that empower today’s workers, you can maximize employee happiness, efficiency and boost the bottom line.