According to Peter Thomson, a respected authority in the concept of future work, many organizations are still using the Industrial Age working practices to make things work in the new Information Age workplace patterns. Many of these companies operating in the new Information Age still use hierarchical command systems in an office workplace. In the current state of the Information Revolution, where automation and digitization are taking over, companies have to change their overall outlook to the way we work and live.
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The ever increasing demand for work-life balance and smart/flexible working conditions calls for a quick revolution, especially in the management processes. In this post, we will delve into the concept of new work environments and what the future holds in this regard.
The Concept of New Work
Essentially, new work is companies harnessing the power of automation and digitization to empower the most adaptable employees in the office. The goal of the new workplace concept is to come up with an employee-centric sort of environment that fosters passion, purpose, freedom and growth.
Additionally, it means that the top management in many organizations have to rethink and repurpose how they view job roles in the office. These new job roles should be able to offer more flexible and continuous learning while empowering employees to be ready for any task thrown their way with some element of passion.
The Primary Drivers for The Changing Nature of Work
Even though several fundamental factors contribute to the current tsunami in the working patterns, many organizational theorists narrowed down to two primary factors:
- The breakthroughs in communication and information technology that have led to the growth of multi-channel working like video conferencing, telephone calls, remote working and others. This is why, it is now easy to separate work from time and space.
- The increasing pressure for organizations to grow more agile, customer-focused and competitive. Overall, to be a lean enterprise.
The lean enterprise model
In the 1970s, popular Japanese car manufacturer, Toyota, introduced the concept of lean enterprise. The model has since changed how different companies from all over the world operate, especially in product development and manufacturing.
Some of the lean enterprise key principles are:
- The identification of internal processes, which add value for the customer while identifying the potential linkages between them. This is what is essentially referred to as value chain.
- The reduction of waste and any inefficiencies in support functions.
- Be able to define value from how a customer sees it.
- Get rid of any non-value adding processes across the company.
Through some of these lean enterprise principles. Many organizations across the world can now rapidly respond to the marketplace by supporting continual innovation and change, developing mass customization processes and reducing the cycle time.
The changes in organizational relationships and structure
When companies adopt these lean principles, they can easily effect several changes in the office relationships and structure to improve the internal processes efficiencies. The goal will be to define customer value and eliminate waste.
Some of the notable organizational changes as a result of new work, new workplace and lean principles include:
- Blurred boundaries: Organizations become more laterally structured; thus, leading to the breakdown of boundaries. The result is more departments and teams within the organization can now work together more effectively. Therefore, this calls for a greater need for knowledge and task sharing.
- Continuous change: It will greatly contribute to companies continuing with the regular cycles of reflection and frequent reorganisation. It could be anything from migration, metamorphosis or elaboration.
- Reduced hierarchical structure: In most cases, hierarchies in workplaces feel cumbersome. Therefore, they can’t quickly respond to any changing market demands. Replacing these structures with cross-unit organisational groupings that come with significantly fewer layers makes decentralising the decision-making process easier.
- Teams become effective: It focuses more on team-based structures to reduce inefficiencies, improving work process and rapid decision making. This means that there will be more open spaces, de-stress spaces and more meeting spaces to ensure the office feels dynamic.
- A new perspective to management: Employees in the office don’t have to abide by orders and rules. Rather, they will feel more committed to the company’s mission and goals. Furthermore, employees will gain more latitude and decision authority, which means that they tend to become more of coaches than commanders.
The move from the fixed working patterns to more flexible work and workplace arrangements is a journey most organizations have to take. This is why many top management officials are embracing autonomous working schemes, giving employees a high degree of freedom at work.
The concept of future work only means that more organizations are moving towards the future work model, which is largely adapted to the economic, technological and social influences of the Information Age.
However, it is important to keep in mind that many organizations are bound to struggle to adapt to the workplace changes because the premise works to challenge the established management controls and power bases. Furthermore, the entire system is a threat to the existence of some of the middle managers while dismantling the status and power in hierarchical powers.
Implications of Future Work
Although the future work model is largely beneficial, it has some probable far-reaching implications in different areas. Here are some of these implications
1. Office spaces (real estate)
In the UK, the private commercial real estate sector represents about 40% of the business. The sector is a vital fabric, especially for housing commercial spaces. However, the fundamental forces of change, especially linked to changing technology makes commercial real estate owners question the future of office spaces.
These changes will seemingly eliminate the need for physical office spaces. The truth of the matter is, future new work and new workplaces will change the shape and form of commercial real estate as we know it. Therefore, it is highly doubtful if increased innovative technology, flexible working and costs constraints will see similar levels of growth in the supply of office spaces like it has been for the past 20 years.
The increased growth of broadband infrastructure in the UK has facilitated faster access to the internet, having a greater bearing on economic growth. However, what a lot of people may not know is that broadband connectivity also has a massive impact on the labour market-related issues.
It is vital to understand that broadband connectivity in the office space highly complements skilled employees. Therefore, this only means that broadband connectivity is future has to be upped to meet the growing technologies in the office while promoting innovation and accessibility. The corresponding effect is the rapid growth of the broadband industry.
3. Home equipment used for connecting remotely
Since the future of work is going to take advantage of multi-channel working, many employees have to ensure that they have the right infrastructure wherever they are to do their work. Therefore, they will have to source and buy more of these systems and infrastructure and have them set up at home to enable work from home or whichever location in the world.
The concept of new work, if properly implemented, has immense potential to improve the internal working relationships in terms of communication and collaboration. This is especially in cross-groups. Furthermore, it can reduce office workplace related stress and at the same time, improving the overall quality of work done while encouraging business leaders rather than followers. Contact us for new concepts.