Technology vastly changed all aspects of our lives, particularly the workplace. Web conferencing, Skype calls, accessing files on the cloud, electronic record keeping,and financial systems, and synching calendars – the list of changes already in place is significant. But there are other technological tools companies are beginning to use that will undoubtedly allow employees more freedom to work remotely and also change how that work is supervised and measured. Newer technology transformations are demonstrating that rethinking the workplace and workday can improve productivity and employee satisfaction.
In 2018, there are five changes in “work” we would like to see that are enabled by digital technology, including tools available from Sapience:
1. People should be allowed to work remotely.
Approximately 20-25 percent of U.S. employees work remotely with some frequency, according to a June 2017 report from GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics.com. Additionally, a Gallup survey reported in February 2017 that 43 percent of American workers spend at least some time working off-site. It seems reasonable to allow them and other employees to telecommute, at least part-time. The same Global Workplace Analytics research said an estimated 50 percent of the workforce does not currently have a job that is compatible with working from home. But the remainder should be able to take advantage of technology to do tasks off-site. Majority of the work that knowledge workers do can be done remotely, and managers can take advantage of productivity metrics to ensure that employees are industrious while working from home. While some fear employees will not be working, studies show the opposite. As reported in the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM),employees working remotely at least part-time report 77 percent greater productivity while working off-site. Also, workers who spent 60-80 percent of their time away from the job site report the highest rates of engagement.
2. Managers should run teams based on data and not assumptions.
Being data-driven enables you to effectively gauge how things are going and separate wrong assumptions from right ones. Harvard Business Review cautions that some numbers-driven managers end up touting lots of low-quality data or attempt to “game” numbers. However, managers should use data to measure what they manage, and vice versa. Newer technological tools can help you establish key performance indicators and see if teams and employees are meeting them.
3. Time cards or concept of time in office should go away.
We should not be asking employees to measure or clock in how much time they spend at work. Let’s face it – people who clock in are not necessarily more productive during the day. Inc. magazine reports that studies actually suggest that the average worker is productive less than half the day. Fast Company cites a study that working less hours and feeling supported at work can boost productivity. It is time spent doing core work and getting it done that really matters. If someone gets things done hours early to hit the slopes or attend a kid’s Little League game, why should the ticking clock make them stay at work?
4. Introduce flexible work hours.
This gives employees freedom, but with accountability. Flexible work schedules help attract employees and retain them. Furthermore, permitting people to work when they feel freshest, most productive and enjoy working allows them to focus on meeting deadlines and producing good work. Several studies have shown flexible schedules lead to reductions in absenteeism, lower turnover, better results and happier employees. One study conducted by the MIT Sloan School of Management, American Sociological Association and the American Sociological Review at a Fortune 500 company showed that flexible work schedules are beneficial and not detrimental to firms.
5. Empower employees to self-manage and become successful on their own.
This involves using a positive combination of performance data and freedom to keep individuals apprised about their performance and areas in which to self-improve. This would clearly enable many firms to stop their annual appraisal processes. Organizations have to invest in technology that provides constant performance data to employees along with suggestions for changes so that they can self-improve and measure their progress.
Today, more people shop remotely, watch movies or TV shows when they want, wear a Fitbit to promote their health and use other technological advances to make their nonwork lives more productive and satisfying. It is time to use technology to transform work further. We have digital tools that can review and compare work patterns off-site as well as on, and measure effort and workers’ output. These tools can allow the five changes presented here to renovate the concept of a workday and workplace.