Recently, I had the opportunity of reading up on the book titled The Future of Work by Jacob Morgan (my name sake). While reading up on this book, I had to do a research on the types of work schemes between Employer and Employees. One focusses on building a team and caging them in an office for quite some reasons. The other leaves a lot of free room to employees to go crazy with ideas and creativity while ensuring that the team members get their tasks done on time.
Looking at the first, traditional work environment, the employers require the staff to come into office everyday and at a specific time, and work on tasks that are delegated by a higher authority. In this scenario “big company capitalism” rules and the primary goal and purpose of a business is to focus on profits, revenue, and growing market share, pretty similar to what companies focus on today except they will become even larger and more monolithic. These massive organizations rule the world and focus on data, policies, and rules. In these types of organizations individual performance trumps the team which means the super-stars get to ascend the ranks faster than everyone else. This organizations is precise, data-driven, cut-throat, and performance driven. This tends to work like a broken record, repeating specific type of task every day for as long as the employee is with the company. While this may seem to have its own advantages, we are in an age where ground breaking techniques are used to woo in customers and staff alike. One of the major disadvantage of this type of work environment is that it ensures that the staff breaks down easily, creating room for piles of leftover work to continue from. Another disadvantage is that there is no real creativity, in terms of project management and customer satisfaction. The employees are not allowed the ability to fail in specific tasks while looking for better ways to achieve same and less standard work is shipped with not enough promise as to how the product would be beneficial to the end users (customers). Information about product use is not shared amongst the team developing and shipping out the product as they come making it impossible for dev teams, for example, to rapidly make drastic changes with the data received. This pyramid structure where information is handed down in a one directional manner will not work well in large companies as information is either lost or takes too much time for the dev team to get it. Individual developers do not get the chance to become major decision makers and (or) managers even with their ability to make strategic changes to the product. This hurts the clientele, the staff and eventually the company.
The solution is to have what is termed as the Future Place of Work. The Future Place of Work is dynamic and can grow in size as tasks increase. Organizations don’t chase revenue and market share, instead they believe in making a difference in the world and having a positive social and environmental impact. Flexible work and family friendly hours and office environments are preferred over 9–5 working hours in cubicles. Companies also invest heavily in collaboration technology and conferencing solutions to avoid having employees travel. Co-creation is also heavily embraced as organizations team up with customers, partners, employees, and other constituents to develop products and services. “Big is bad for business” and the driving goal is maximizing flexibility while reducing costs. Smaller more nimble and agile organizations reign supreme. Instead of organizations becoming larger they instead focus on leveraging networks. In this scenario freelancers and entrepreneurs dominate the employment landscape and companies break up into smaller entities in order to stay relevant with fast changing world we live and work in. Let’s take an example, Media Temple. Though I am not sure they use this style of work, you’d agree that there are see telltale signs that this method is used in their work style. The company can choose to have an office in a specified location. All that does is limit the ability of the company to pick from a very wide range of technical specialties who can actually deliver on tasks given to them thanks to limitation of distance. Instead, they pick to work with developers around the globe giving them more value for their monies when the topic of expertise is in question.
With this type of work space the developers can complete a task given to them within a specific time (of which they have autonomy over). Developers are not required to come to an office hence there is little to no stress before work is done or after work is done. Developers are not longer required to show (off) their presence, proving that work is done. Instead, since the time spent on work is largely calculated to pay off the developer, developers tend to complete their tasks on time, reversing the status of manager vs employee relationships in work. Since work can be done anywhere developers can “get comfortable” with their tasks every day.
Since developers work from everywhere and anywhere, information is passed on via collaboration tools like Slack and Flowdocks and is immediately available to all the parties involved. Sharing of information brings with it improvements as a task might be critiqued and better ways to achieve the task is attained. With this everyone has a say and everyone including low level developers have a say in overall quality of products shipped. Everyone is a leader!
Since everyone is latched into one communication center where information is shared, it is easy for customers to get quick feedback as information is received and passed on easily without the necessary authorities having to overview and delegate.
The possibilities are endless with this framework and as I have learned from the book, more companies are beginning to switch to this fashion of work. Prospective staff are now inquiring about the place and fashion of work in a way that very soon the traditional pyramid scheme will become obsolete in a matter of years.