AS BUSINESSES look to increase productivity whether through automation, technology, upgrading staff competencies or branding, there is also a need to look into new approaches of work.
Companies, which are at the forefront of enabling employees to work smarter, save time and get things done more effectively, implement a variety of dynamic, collaborative and connected ways of working.
These new ways of work encompass the variety of approaches from office-based work to home-based work, integrating flexible physical work spaces and enabling technologies.
When companies get creative in implementing flexibility in the workplace, a whole range of structured approaches to work can happen. They can include:
• Flexible work space arrangements
These could include hot-desking, collaboration corners and meeting rooms with video-conferencing facilities.
• Home-based work or homeworking
This is where one works primarily from home, occasionally travelling back to office when the need arises.
• Working at customer sites or working from permanent off-site offices (such as third-party operated sites or customers’ sites)
A new approach in Singapore is the set-up of professional office support such as Smart Work Centres (SWCs) which provide flexible work spaces that companies can leverage as extensions of their office.
• Flexible work hours
These include staggered work hours.
• Part-time work and compressed work weeks
As more companies implement flexibility in the workplace, “work” is no longer bounded by co-worker proximity, face-time or time zone.
Change management strategy
To enable employees to work effectively, there is a need to explore these new ways of work.
The implementation of these new work approaches requires adoption of new processes, structures, resources, management practices and technology.
However, the benefits of these work approaches may not be fully achieved if there is a failure in preparing both those who will be directly or indirectly impacted and those who will be supervising the employees.
Beyond preparing the infrastructure (tools, equipment and technical knowledge), there is a need for employers to prepare staff for the new way of work and discuss how to manage staff who are working within this new approach.
So, what are the new rules of engagement? How do we manage staff who are not in the office? How do we know if they are really working?
Preparing staff for the new work arrangements ensures a smoother transition and a higher probability of success. Especially when implementing any new initiative or programme, early small successes will contribute to long-term sustainability.
Deploying a change management strategy and plan should be part of your company’s efforts to make the mobile work programme a success.
The critical elements of the change management plan would include the following:
1. Articulate the business case and desired outcomes;
2. Set up an implementation team and engage staff in the design of the new way of work;
3. Communicate outcomes and expectations;
4. Develop competencies to support the new way of work;
5. Equip managers with skills to manage the workforce; and
6. Commit to improvements and celebrate success.
Today’s article will discuss the first two elements, while Parts 2 and 3 will cover the remaining four elements that are needed to make the new way of work a success.
Articulate the business case and desired outcomes
Be clear and specific about the desired outcomes of the new work arrangement.
Organisations need to define “who is affected?”, “what’s in it for the company?” and “what’s in it for staff?”
Clarity enables employers to communicate their objectives to ensure buy-in from employees better. It must be a win-win for both parties.
Common business outcomes include enhanced productivity, reduced business costs, greater staff motivation and staff retention.
For staff, it could be shorter travel times, cost savings and greater flexibility.
Set up an implementation team and engage staff in the design phase
As part of the “design phase”, it is imperative to engage staff —especially those who are going to be directly impacted — and their supervisors.
The earlier the employers understand their concerns, the earlier they can address them.
For example, if in the new way of work, management staff will no longer have rooms and will be hot-desking, engaging them early to communicate the objectives and understand their concerns will be important to ensure greater buy-in.
A common approach is to set up a cross-functional task force, led by a senior management team member, to ensure alignment at the highest level.
Team members should include those who will be affected by the changes as well as those who will be involved in the design and implementation phases of the new work arrangement.
Article by Jacqueline Gwee, director, aAdvantage Consulting. She has over 18 years of broad-based human resource, change management and business excellence consulting experience in both the public and private sectors. This article was first published in the New Ways of Work Handbook by the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA).