If there’s one thing business leaders and thinkers can agree on, it’s that the way we work is changing. Thanks to a combination of technological advances, emerging global markets and demographic shifts, both the kind of work we’ll do – and how we’ll do it – is undergoing a radical transformation to better mirror the needs and demands of today’s global economy.
In a previous piece, I wrote about how the rise in employee disengagement in today’s workplaces is in part due to a disconnect between what we do and what we’re passionate about. Another key factor for the current decline in employee morale and motivation stems from the growing reality that the way we work is no longer in sync with the realities of today’s world.
Certainly, there can be little doubt that we now live in a information-driven economy that not only runs 24/7, but which sees us having to anticipate, grapple and adjust to changes that happen half a world away. And yet, so many organizations continue to lean on Industrial Age approaches – where desks are congregated like a modern day assembly line and work hours are measured to determine productivity and compensation levels.
Most organizations and their leaders do this because it’s the way we expect organizations to run, without taking into consideration whether it’s still relevant or effective in terms of how to best meet the needs of those we serve, or even if it’s what we want to collectively accomplish through our shared efforts.
Of course, any discussion of competing in a global economy understandably introduces the importance and value of encouraging diversity within the workplace to tap into new ways and approaches to address a particular situation.
But why do we have to limit this notion of diversity to visible or cultural differences? Why don’t we also recognize the diversity in how we approach work? After all, some of us do our best work in the morning while others find inspiration and productivity taking hold in the later hours of the day.
If we want to improve our creativity, our ability to innovate and be productive, shouldn’t our focus be more on what leaders can do to facilitate work getting done, as opposed to where it’s done and restricting it within a time frame which is increasingly falling out of step with how people communicate, share and collaborate?
Perhaps one of the clearest signs of this growing need to change the way we work has been the rise in popularity and usage of telecommuting in today’s workforce over the last few years.
Although initially offered by some employers as a perk to retain key talent who needed time at home to raise kids or tend to elderly parents, many employers have realized that allowing their employees to telecommute offers tangible benefits for their organization as well.
Indeed, studies have shown that employees who work from home are 10-20% more productive than their counterparts at the office. In this light, it comes as little surprise that the number of US employers that offer work-at-home options has risen from 30% in 2007 to 42% a year later.
While implementing any kind of organizational change can be challenging, how do we go about changing the way we work? In the article, “When to Let Employees Work from Home”, there are a number of points addressed which – while pertinent to creating an effective and efficient team of virtual employees – provide some valuable insights about what organizations and their leaders need to consider in terms of how to bring their organization forward to meet the demands of today’s economy and workforce.
It’s important to note that these cultural changes are not meant to address some distant future that some might try to glean by looking into their version of a modern-day crystal ball. Instead, these changes are key to operating within the realities of our present day – where information and ideas can be freely shared across the world, and where collaborations are no longer limited by geographical boundaries, but by institutional ones.
By adapting their approach and attitudes to work, organizations will also be able to attract and retain the key talent they’ll need to be both successful and nimble in today’s evolving global market.
Granted, some organizations have already heeded the call and are beginning to appreciate and understand the value and necessity of embracing the changes that define this ‘new reality’. The question that now remains is how many other organizations will soon join them, as opposed to stumbling along the fate several iconic brands are now grappling with – of riding off into the sunset of obscurity and irrelevance.
Disclaimer: My blog is a part of an online influencer network for Business on Main. I receive monthly incentives to share my views on content I find noteworthy and relevant for my audience.