What Is The Future Of Work?
What is the future of work? At a time when most people are more concerned with whether they will have a job tomorrow, it perhaps doesn't seem the right time to think more long term. However, this is exactly the time to review the way we work and ensure that any cutbacks do not hamper organizations for the future.
It is also exactly the right time to be looking at flexible working. Study after study shows the business case for flexible working. It cuts absence rates, reduces recruitment costs, increases staff motivation and productivity and, if we are talking about homeworking, reduces office overheads. That's just for starters. For employees, it cuts out unnecessary time spent commuting and allows people to have a better work-life balance.
That's why the leading companies are forging ahead with promoting flexible working and ensuring it is central to the way they work. With technological changes, from faster broadband to video conferencing, allowing people to work as easily from home as they do in the office, it makes sense for organizations to pay more than lip service to flexible working.
While some have resorted to reduced weeks to get around the recession, the ones that will surely be more successful in the future are those who do a root and branch review of the way they operate and do not see flexibility as purely a short-term measure for cutting costs.
This will require different ways of managing workers - for example, a move away from "presentism" to measuring staff performance according to the work they do.
There may be some surprises along the way. Some managers may think homeworking will allow staff to idle away the hours, doing the housework or going to see their friends. In fact, many with experience of managing homeworkers say the opposite is the case.
People tend to overwork because they are never away from the office and managers have to ensure that they don't burn themselves out.
Such issues are not rocket science, though, and many organizations are already allowing extensive homeworking. What is needed is a good forum for sharing best practice on this. One way is through awards ceremonies, such as Workingmums.co.uk's Top Employers Awards, which takes place this week. The more good practice is publicized the less managers will be able to cling on to old-fashioned methods of working which are no longer appropriate for the coming decades.
Picture credit: Graur Razvan Ionut and www.freedigitalphotos.net