Modern Workplace - Oct 13, 2021

New Work – The fundamental transformation of companies in the hybrid age.

“Can I work from home tomorrow? Someone’ll have to let the heating person in.” This is not a sentence you’ll hear very often anymore, because in a lot of companies, people connecting to the office within their own four walls is nothing worth talking about. Flexibility is the magic word. Yet the amenities of a modern workplace are not without their challenges, as the realities of existing structures often defy the hybrid workplace. Empowering a modern work style is not just a matter of giving people the right tools; it also takes a much more radical cultural shift.

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We’ll take a look at the profound changes that organisations see as they open up to hybrid structures and modern work styles, and how to tackle them head on. Here’s a rundown of the five most critical things to keep in mind. 

The way forward is dynamic. 

The last few months have opened our eyes to just how important it is to be able to respond to a changing landscape, and do it fast. In order to stay responsive and on top of evolving market and employee expectations, organisations are putting a priority on agile teams and flexible ways of getting the job done. To this end, they have to tear down departmental silos and establish all new structures. Collaborating on projects in small, cross-site and cross-department focus teams brings a number of benefits, as it allows people to be more creative and ideate faster, while processes are continuously optimised and advanced. This ongoing transformation is something that leadership has to guide and communicate—a staple of the Modern Workplace.

Leadership has to evolve, too. 

A top-down management style where people are simply told what to do, when and how, is a relic of a dusty past. Employees not only want to engage and be engaged with, they also want to contribute their creativity and take on concrete responsibility. By extension, leaders become members of their own dynamic teams, blurring the lines between boss and employee, knocking down traditional hierarchies.  

While SMEs often have fewer ranks than large-scale organisations, these are often much more distinct and separate from one another. In order to enable a modern workplace, companies have to dissolve these rigid structures, taking leaders and employees along on a mutual journey of redefining their roles and responsibilities. Professional change management is key in this process, as understanding the needs and motifs of the workforce and keeping every one engaged from the get go is paramount and the only way to engrain a modern and effective leadership style in the corporate culture.  

Error culture is key. 

New Work is a lot to do with speed. Iterative work cycles that yield fast results and quick modifications are an essential component of modern organisations, and these have to tie in with a matching error culture. Mistakes enable us to learn, but for that to happen, people must (be allowed to) talk about them. This takes an open mindset that allows people to reflect on their approaches as a community and discuss ways to improve. Encouraging employees to express themselves and address mistakes that happened unlocks a great variety of benefits for a business. Not only does it mean that the same mistake can be prevented the next time around, understanding what went wrong also lets you draw valuable conclusions, and not to forget—an open, appreciative environment is a real motivation boost for employees. Here, too, it is important to lead by good example, a new mindset that must be embraced by the entire organisation, a shift away from hiding failure towards an open culture that encourages learning from mistakes.

Employees can’t stay on the sidelines. 

Modern equipment may be an essential feature of the Modern Workplace, but by no means can you stop at that. Simply dropping new tools or devices on your employees often leads to but one thing—they remain dropped. Some people will just stick to their old ways, while others may dabble with the new tools, but fail to understand their full capabilities, or worse, use them all wrong to begin with. Ultimately, this means a lot of money sunk into a project that was doomed to fail.  

In order for people to truly adopt new tools and methods, you have to get users on board from the very start. Everyone needs to understand the tools they’ll be working with, and how to work them for everyone’s benefit. It may seem like much ado about nothing, but having everyone pull together and developing a precise plan to introduce new devices, tools or methods will quickly pay off. It’s the only way for an organisation to truly unlock the benefits of the Modern Workplace and becoming more flexible, responsive, and cost efficient. 

Inspire and retain young professionals. 

The war for talent is raging all around us. Only if you stand out of the crowd as an attractive employer can you catch the attention of and recruit promising people. A younger generation expects different things from the place they work. The change of generations has an inevitable impact on the corporate culture and structure. Flexible work models, the hybrid workplace, work-life balance and sabbaticals are all things that employers have to come to grips with today.  

When leaders manage to display a genuine, open and appreciative style, employees will respond in kind. It allows them to really enjoy and see a purpose in what they are doing, so they’ll want to stick around, too. This is of critical importance, as companies are often in a position to prevent valuable employees from jumping ship.  

So how can you guide along the change? 

Many organisations soon discover their own limits when it comes to adding structure to change, resulting in failed projects and a discouraged workforce. That’s why it’s advisable to take a strategic approach to the Modern Workplace and modern leadership. Our change management experts can help you make sure your journey towards a modern work culture is a resounding success. To do so, they’ll analyse the status quo in your organisation, identify objectives and make sure your employees and leaders are all on the same page. We’ll work with you to develop your own bespoke strategy that is right for your organisation, and make sure all your questions on change management and user adoption are fully answered. We’re by your side as we realise your change project together, and stay there to ensure continuous optimisation through a big-picture approach—the foundation of a Modern Workplace that lets you step into the future with confidence. 

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Published on Oct 13, 2021.