This is a guest blog from Gareth Cartman,
director of digital marketing at Clever Little Design.
If you want
to know how the workplace is changing, look no further than the startling
results from a recent survey which showed that 62% of IT contractors claim the lack of "office politics" is behind their
decision to work for
Add to that
a recent survey which showed that 81% of UK workers want a change from the 9-5
'shift' and you
start to view the sea change in the British workplace, or at least in attitudes
of British employees.
So is office
politics really turning people off in their droves? And if so, there are two
problems we have to solve:
need less conflict & better communication (conflict & poor
communication are often behind much of what we would call 'office politics')
We need to
embrace remote working & make it work for us, not against us - it's an
Reducing conflict, improving communication
don't like office politics - and you can pretty much guarantee that many other
departments dislike it, too. Office politics proliferates when there's a lack
of communication, and silo mentalities that result in conflict.
silos is the first step in any organisation. Silos happen when leaders don't
talk to each other. They fester, and resentment festers - information doesn't
cross between silos, and a blame culture arises. No wonder IT workers
(stereotypically not the most outgoing of people) don't want to get involved.
that the open plan offices of the 90s would have ended silos, but instead
they've continued to build. It's top-down, and cuts across the business. To end silos,
talking & agreeing on one common objective
to see the big picture
common goals, and reward common achievements
this easier is the explosion in business social networking tools. For years,
organisations have banned social media in the workplace, but are seemingly now
willing to accept facebook-style collaboration tools. It seems that one of the
keys to ending workplace silos is to mimick social networks - research seems to
indicate that productivity is up as a result. IT workers especially seem to benefit.
Making remote working work for employers
long, the discussion about remote work has centred around it "working for the
employee". The idea of work/life balance, less commuting, freedom to work more
flexible hours has caught on, and employers have had to adapt as a result.
it on its head. How can you actually get a better quality of work out of
employees? IT workers would rather stay out of the office - and that's fine.
Let's accept that as the norm - how can we use this situation as employers to
systems. We mentioned business social networking tools, but ERP, CRM, Marketing
tools, sales dashboards... they all need to work around employees, not the other
industry, for instance (often the chattiest of the lot) has been talking about
mobile for years - it's only now that businesses have finally accepted mobile
as an essential 'strategy'. Why? Because people aren't using their tools. Not only are people forming silos in the
workplace, the tools are becoming silos of their own.
global business (who shall remain unnamed) had multiple CRM systems, and
multiple installations of the same system - because nobody talked to anyone
else. Systems - at least integrated ones - are able to bring people together,
so long as they meet peoples' needs. Why do you think dictators are so keen to
bring down Twitter?
"BIG" need is the ability to collaborate with colleagues wherever you go. In
the coffee shop, on the train, wherever. So if we're going to make remote
working 'work' for businesses, the focus has to be on a) making it easy to use
these tools, and b) driving user adoption. A should beget B.
are obvious to HR professionals, and they should be obvious to anyone with half
a brain. More productive employees are generally happier ones. They're
achieving something. What's more, you're giving them the flexibility they demanded, so you're going to get some loyalty, and
potentially even a competitive advantage in the much-fabled 'war for talent'
which - after a brief hiatus - is apparently back 'on' (we could argue that in
IT, it has never been 'off').
predict the future shape of the workplace with any seriousness, but we can see
its direction. Workplace technology is taking on consumer technology, and the
result is that employees are expecting this technology not just to support
their work/life balance but to actually make their workplace a more collaborative,
more enjoyable place to work.
we run have to meet that demand. They have to meet users' requirements for
flexibility, and they have to be used.
If employers can concentrate on building tools around employees, then not only
do we start to solve the common problem of "how much money have we wasted on
this software nobody uses" - but we also start to break down the silos that
cause so much friction within the workplace, and that drive out some of the
most talented IT professionals into contracting roles.
that a no-brainer.