Monday February 13, 2012
By Sol Arigós - Client Support Manager, talent toolbox
There's a revolution going on at the moment, and it involves how, and where, we work. We’ve been talking about ‘fun at work’ recently and that triggered something in my mind. These stories seem to revolve around the idea that ‘work’ is the office, the factory, the shop. But is it? Now more than ever, ‘work’ has become a verb. Work has genuinely become a doing word – work has become the thing that you do, not a place that you go.
Only recently Ben Dowd, UK Business Director for o2, told Channel 4 News: "In terms of productivity, one of the things that comes out is that people who work from home are 15-20 per cent more productive because they're happy with the responsibility they've been given to get on with the work themselves." This is probably part of the reason for all 3,000 employees at o2’s UK HQ piloting remote working last week!
Ben is by no means alone in identifying the benefits of moving away from work as a noun and towards work as a verb. The Government’s Directgov website cites "Working from home can bring many benefits to an employee’s work-life balance - and that he or she becomes a better, more productive employee when the employer makes it possible to explore this option”.
These days it is a very common practice for companies to offer flexible working patterns and little by little we are starting to accept its benefits:
- Most importantly, your people are happier.
- Increased productivity, reduced sick absence, higher levels of performance.
- It also reduces the need for expensive premises.
- Women who take maternity leave are more likely to come back to work. Saving on downtime, recruitment and induction costs.
- There are bonuses for society by reducing carbon footprints.
- Encourages a more diverse labour force, bringing in not just carers but those who have difficulty travelling because they are disabled or live in remote locations.
- Easier to attract and retain people.
In fact renowned organisational theorist, Thomas W. Malone, published a great book on this subject called 'The Future of Work'. So important are his theories that the world’s leading business school, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, asked him to be co-founder of their landmark initiative “Inventing the Organisations of the 21st Century”.
So if it’s this great why don’t businesses do it more often? The issues are more ‘human’ than technological. These days the technology to support home working is fairly straightforward, and I suspect that this is already in place for most organisations. It's certainly the case that laptops and smart-phones— along with widely available wireless networks — have dramatically changed the way people work; freeing people from the concept that work is a single place.
In our ‘Purple Palace’ we’re proud to say that we have found the right balance. A number of us often work from home, or start early or late to accommodate their work-life balance. Technology has also helped make it possible to work closely with our team of associates, our franchises both in Scotland and the United Arab Emirates, as well as our software development team based in Ireland. By being in tune with our people, we view work as a verb which is reducing, or in some cases, eradicating the need for the entire team to be in the office at the same time. It’s all down to trust and finding different ways to measure performance that is based upon outputs rather than the amount of time spent at desks.
Flexible working patterns do need the right tools in place in order to support it . Appraisal systems such as talent toolbox™ prove to be an essential tool to help with the new ways of working. With this system, performance can be monitored, one-to-one meetings can be arranged and it even helps with succession planning. You can also request to meet for a coffee chat at any time to ensure you have that vital face-to-face regularly.
A recent Confederation of British Industry survey found that the vast majority of employers (96 per cent) offer at least one form of flexible working, while nearly three-quarters (70 per cent) offer three or more types. The way we work has and is changing. By moving towards work as a verb you’re enabling your people to have more successful and happier lives and that always has a great effect on the bottom line.
How does the new order of business shape your organisation? Your management style? and Your life?