Working Smarter, Not Harder
Not a day goes by that an invitation is offered to discuss the future of work, be it working remotely, hybrid working etc.
One of the critical areas businesses are now getting laser-focused on is the way we work, both in terms of remote working and utilising new technologies which save time and effort. A common phrase to be heard in our office is ‘work smarter, not harder’, and this is what many companies are beginning to do.
There are many advantages to remote working, from saving vast amounts of money on renting offices to employees being able to have a better work-life balance or spend more time with their kids.
While the trade union movement continues to fan the flames of remote working, saying it is a ‘’win-win for workers and rural communities’’, many employees would rather be in the workplace among colleagues rather than living and working out of their bedroom or shared accommodation. To counter that argument, a consultancy firm, Stratis, has told its clients that a significant issue which will arise is the mainstreaming of remote working, should there be a payment for work done rather than time.
Undoubtedly, this remark will be a trigger for many supporters of working from home.
Other initiatives that are being floated in the US include a five-day working week, but where employees can choose to work on Saturdays and Sundays, which would be handy for commuting and saving money on childcare.
However, remote working also throws up challenges. There can be a decreased team cohesion, difficulty in efficient decision-making, increased cybersecurity risks, demoralisation among employees and a lack of the many impromptu chats and conversations which help grease the wheels of the workplace. One only has to think of beginning a work life position and the impact that had on spurring on growth and development, curiosity and drive, momentum and understanding change.
One of the major problems for employers at the moment is training and upskilling, particularly in professional services such as accountancy firms and legal practices. In many jobs, being in the office, talking to colleagues and observing experienced professionals at work is a critical aspect of how we learn.
To address this, companies will have to embrace new technology and adapt to a more digital, less hands-on way of working. This will involve having a ‘digital-first’ strategy to improve collaboration and cohesion among employees, having mechanisms to share ideas, and establishing clear objectives and direction for people to work to.
The pandemic has also accelerated the trend towards AI and automation. The McKinsey Global Institute estimates that AI and automation will replace up to 375 million jobs worldwide by 2030. Employees in the future are going to have to be more flexible and adaptive as a result of this and focus more on upskilling and training.
The next normal is very uncertain for employers and employees as a changing world keeps changing. There is a spike in inflation forecast and the bills from the pandemic keep rising, so it looks like there will be another bumpy autumn on the way.