Friday, 26 February 2016

Flexible working's tipping point - implications for knowledge work and knowledge workers

A report just out from the Work Foundation suggests that 'flexible' working will soon become the norm. This will have far-reaching implications for knowledge workers; possibly detrimental to organisational and individual
performance unless organisations adopt different working practices and allow personal preferences. Whilst new collaborative technologies abound (there will be another along in a few minutes), these human factors are critical in their successful adoption.

"The technology exists to enable successful mobile working, but for many individuals and organisations it is not yet being used to its full potential. We will imminently reach a tipping point in the trend towards mobile working. Concerns regarding health and wellbeing can be managed through careful implementation, leadership and agreed policies - it seems that we can be “always –on” but also in control of how this impacts on us".

The Work Foundation also suggests that 'the annual performance review will become about as relevant as the 5 year plan'. In other words, our management practices must move to reflect the way we now work - flexibly.

Widespread flexible working brings many new challenges (and perhaps opportunities) for knowledge, collaboration and expertise sharing. "Don’t assume that new ways of working will just happen. It might be worth testing and trialling rather than just blanket adoption. It will be vital to enable collaboration for teams and while this can be facilitated through technology, it is important to set specific meet-ups and “virtual coffees” which retain the “social dividends” that accrue from working in teams".

The report has many other suggestions, taken from case-studies of early-adopting organisations.

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