Technology is changing the way we work; for organisations & their employees.

I’m super interested in the future of work, and a couple of things got me thinking over the last week — how does the environment that I work in compare to that of a larger, more corporate environment?

Specifically:

  1. Open communication between teams
  2. Tools that are hardware agnostic

I recently watched a TED talk by Nancy Duarte on ‘The secret of great talk structures’ (well worth a watch if you haven’t seen it). I enjoyed the talk so much that I did what most of us do, and I shared it on our ‘interesting links’ Slack channel. Within 1 minute I had Nancy’s Resonate book on my desk — now that beats Amazon Prime at delivery! So my point here is open communication. I work in an environment where we’re enabled to speak openly to all of the team across the organisation — how many orgs lock down third party apps and only allow for email? For a lot of large orgs it’s death by email, meetings for the sake of meetings, departments silo’d off into their own area of the building and little/no room for collaboration.

We rarely use email to communicate with each other, it’s either Slack or face-to-face. Slack is used by tonnes of large orgs like The Times of London and Associated Press and you can find out how they’re using it here. It’s always refreshing to hear people that are working in large orgs talking about Slack and as time goes on more and more people are adopting it — its success has been amazing so far, and 2 years on it’s booming.

The second thing that got me thinking was around mobility, specifically when it comes to tools that are hardware agnostic. I was walking through the studio and I noticed a Macbook on the window ledge, leaning against the window whilst someone had popped their head into a workshop — okay, that’s not the best place rest your Macbook, but we’re given tools that enable us to work from anywhere, move around, and be more productive. We’re not restricted and we’re not pinned to our desk. How many orgs provide their employees with clunky PCs so they can’t move around? How many orgs use software that can’t be accessed on any device, anywhere? I’m currently writing this on my mobile, and later on I’ll make edits on my Mac.

There are tonnes of things that happen everyday that aid our productivity, or quite simply make us unproductive.

To me, it’s bizarre, but to others it’s completely normal and they run into obstacles everyday, yet their employer hasn’t woken up to 2016 and realised that they need to create an environment where teams can communicate openly and collaborate, and have access better tools to make work, work.

There are so many situations that we find ourselves in and some of us are punished simply because our employer doesn’t trust us or provide us with the tools and support we need to do our best work with everything that life throws at us. Here’s a few examples where employers could (should) be more helpful:

  • Your child isn’t very well so you can’t make it into work today.
  • Your boiler has broken down so you need to stay home for the morning.
  • You’re in between meetings on the road and you need to access some files on the server to send them to a client.

All of the above go much deeper than providing hardware agnostic tools — they’re influenced by several factors including transparency, org values and autonomy (maybe a post for another day).

Employees expectations are changing rapidly, and the grad that took a job at a large org 10 years ago is a completely different character to that grad entering the world of work today. If work isn’t working then these individuals won’t stick around, they’ll move on to a more responsive org or go it alone. But it’s not just about the next generation, it’s also about parents that simply don’t see the benefit in coming back to work because there’s little flexibility and childcare costs high. We hear a lot about customers expectations increasing, hate it or love it, employees are your customers. Employees are getting louder, looking for more flexibility, and with better access to tools and connectivity, there’s no excuse not to become a better org that people want to be part of.

A lot of us want to be part of an org that has a purpose, a reason for existence, one that treats its employees as it does its customers. These orgs are the ones that are made up of high-performing teams that are delivering work that’s changing the world — they’re getting the best out of their people and adapting to external factors.

If orgs don’t adapt to the changing expectations from their workforce then they’re going to suffer. The likes of TaskRabbit have completely reimagined how people can make a living. A lot of people work to live, and it’s that simple. TaskRabbit is an online marketplace that allows people to outsource chores. TaskRabbit gives taskers (people looking to take on the chores) the opportunity to take control of their schedules, workload and type of work they’re doing in return for a pay packet — they’re doing what they want to do, when they want to do it. TaskRabbit recently said that a serious tasker can earn up to $42,000 a year. Uber enables the same thing, and every time I get in an Uber I always ask how long they’ve been with them and what they did before etc. So far, nine times out of ten, they did something completely different (I definitely get London cabbies ill feeling towards Uber drivers because of all of the studying they had to do, but times are changing, and it’s the nature of the world we live in).

I guess my point is, no matter how big or small you are, you need to adapt to employees expectations, different lifestyles/circumstances, embrace technology and create an environment that enables people to work together, openly and effectively.

There are tonnes of great people/orgs talking about this sort of thing and here’s some recommended reading/watching:

The Changing World of Work — Microsoft, The Future of Work (feat. Aaron Dignan, Adam Pisoni, Jennifer Magnolfi)

What’s The Future of Work — Tim O'Reilly

Work Doesn’t Work — Mike Arauz

The Future of Work — Jacob Morgan


I really enjoy reading and chatting about this sort of thing, so if you’re interested in this sort of thing too, then I’d love to say Hello and share experiences/recommended reading etc. You can find me over here on Twitter.

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