Many organisations are being held back from adopting smarter, more flexible ways of working due to their own cultural intransigence. Contributor Mark Grant, GTM Manager: Digital Workspace Productivity – Dimension Data.
The benefits of flexible and remote ways of working have been well-documented, from increased productivity to improved staff morale. But there remains a tendency among some employers to view such smarter working practices with cynicism and suspicion. For many years it was believed technology was the most significant hurdle to overcome in opening up deskbound office staff to more flexible ways of working.
It was claimed that it was expensive, insecure, difficult to implement and that people couldn’t work as effectively as they could in the office. However, none of these arguments have stood the test of time and what has become increasingly clear is that the greatest hurdle in many organisations is a cultural resistance. Whether it is a lack of trust in their people or a lack of understanding about the benefits of smarter working, organisations are often holding themselves back.
In time, this tendency to prize presenteeism over productivity will ultimately cost organisations people and profit as they are left behind by more progressive organisations. Many successful businesses already recognise that making their staff more flexible and making it easier for people to work when they are most productive is good for business with many other potential cost-benefits, from reducing the reliance on office space in city-centre locations to giving staff a more stress-free work-life balance which can reduce the cost to business of illness and churn.
Research from Dimension Data* suggests there will be a 40% increase in the proportion of large businesses who support flexible working within the next two years. Furthermore, nearly half (49%) say they will have some employees working full time from home within two years. At this rate, employees will expect to be able to work in smarter, more flexible ways and they will seek out employers who support that desire. Those who cannot deliver on those expectations will find they miss out on the best talent out there while struggling to hold onto their own.
Dimension Data is encouraging organisations to confront these cultural hurdles now with a ‘Manifesto for Smarter Working’. We have outlined five points we believe employers and employees need to discuss and reach agreement on. They are:
We agree the office is just one place we can work
Even the sleekest of offices only suit most of the people, most of the time. There will always be instances where the office isn’t the best environment to work.
We do not need excuses to work smarter
Many people feel the need to excuse remote working with reasons unrelated to work, such as waiting in for a plumber. But “I will get more work done, to a higher standard” should be the only reason anybody needs.
We know trust isn’t about turning up
Healthy relationships rely on trust earned through mutual respect and value. We shouldn’t have to be in an office for people to trust we’re working.
We believe great work can happen any time
When we do our best work is rarely dictated by what time it is. What matters most is delivering the best work possible, with consideration for others involved in the process.
We value working smarter over working longer
Being first in and last out doesn’t mean someone is working better or harder. We need to evolve the way we measure performance to focus on productivity, not hours and minutes.
For businesses who have been slow to adopt more progressive, smarter ways of working, the good news is it’s not too late. Even better, if the only thing holding them back is their own company culture then solving the issue is as easy as starting a conversation. We hope this Manifesto helps organisations kick-start those conversations.