The new way of working, a broad concept
What exactly is the new way of working? Personally, I think ‘the new way of working’ or agile working is quite a vague term. What was new 1 minute ago, is now quite old. So it is a very subjective term. In addition to that, no definition of it has been agreed upon, allowing different interpretations.
Depending on the experience of the person you talk to, the focus is on a particular field. From an ICT perspective, the new way of working is often interpreted as applying Enterprise 2.0. This is in short, applying Web 2.0 themes and techniques within organizations.
The new world of work is as far as I am concerned, usually described as enabling employees to determine how, where, when and with whom they work. In the office interiors industry this is called ‘Agile Working’.
That is a short sentence but with a lot of implications:
– employees decide for themselves, not a manager; – not 40 hours a week out in the office; – efficient dealing with your own time (both work and private).
As I said, this was a brief definition. The advantage of a short definition is that it is a picture of a concept. The downside is of course that it is too simplistic. Because of the different angles is the new way of working concept is much wider. Below you will find a description of the various angles.
The human being
The new way of working or agile working, revolves around the human being, the employee. When an employee can work efficiently he or she is the most valuable to an organisation. An employee is an individual with their own ideas, wishes and ways. Every individual has his/her own:
– ways of working
– preference of working hours
– concentration abilities (duration and time)
An employee is not a number, but a unique person with its own working optimum. When the employees themselves decide how, where and when he/she works, they are the most efficient. In addition to this, the job satisfaction will be improved as well.
When it is recognised that employees cannot be tarred with the same brush, but as individuals with their own way of working, then organisations must act upon this. House rules as ‘you have to be in the officer 40 hours a week’ are obsolete. All too often, employees’ homes offer a better work environment (faster internet, less restrictions in possible tools [e.g. Gmail inbox is 10 Gb], less distractions etc.). In addition, no more commuting problems that add to a feeling of displeasurea for a large number of employees.
Organisations need to be more flexible to employees. The focus should be on what really matters: delivering added value. An employee should be paid to his/her added value, not on the number of hours that he’s or she is present in the work place.
A simple comment like “so, taken the afternoon of?” to a staff member who rushes hour home is killing for the concept of agile working working. It shows little understanding of employees who deal efficiently with their time.
Old school management is taught amongst other things to monitor on the presence of employees. This is a stiff leadership style that focuses on checking employees. Employees who decide how, when and where they work are more benefit more (and hence are more productive and efficient) from supportive management. Managers should ask themselves how they can support their employees. This in contrast to a manager that imposes restrictions on companies staff so that the manager can push his/her idea.
On the basis of the idea that the employees and not the managers add value to the organisation, the focus must be on the employees. Management must be in the service of the staff and continuously wonder what they need.
Employees who choose themselves when and where they work, need support in their work of ICT resources. The employee is no longer bound to a physical place to work, he/she must be supported independently of time and place alltogether. ICT resources are essential. The previously referenced Enterprise 2.0 initiatives, combined with infrastructural adjustments offer a solution.
Employees who choose where, how and when they work, do not come to the office to get behind a desk to work. The function of the office changes to a meeting place. People come to the office to speak to each other, to exchange experience and for social contacts. This requires an adjustment in office layout by interior design Glasgow with a right balance between hot desking workspaces, meeting rooms and collaboration spaces.