The future of work will mean embracing our human nature – employees want to connect, be social and feel empowered to make decisions. Companies now and in the future will recognise the need to change the way we work to empower and engage their most important asset – their people.
One premise of Ade McCormack's book, "Beyond Nine to Five", is that the way we are working needs to change. He takes us back 12,000 years and highlights how we were highly mobile (chasing or being chased), highly social and connected in our groups and we made decisions all the time. If we fast forward to the industrial age, everything changed in the world of work and we began to work set hours and wait for instruction on what to do. It is essentially where boredom and slacking off on the job started. You would hardly have stopped looking for food 12,000 years ago just because it was past 5.30pm or because you did not like the person who told you to do it!
In the future, employees will embrace working flexibly and from anywhere, realising that sitting behind the same desk is often not the most efficient way of doing things. While we still have many who worry about what employees are doing when we cannot see them, the reality is that work should be outcome driven. If someone produces high-quality results it should not matter if you see them or not.
Now, with online sites like Glassdoor.com, employees will tell you if the company is a good place to work. You can no longer say you are good to work for, your employees will tell the world the reality. This means investing in your culture, values and being authentic. Culture is essentially what happens when the boss leaves the room. People are using devices to connect and share information more than ever, both the positive and negative stories of the company they work for.
Companies need to empower their employees to make more decisions. It is time-consuming and inefficient when we wait for others to make a decision we already knew. In one assembly line in Toyota Japan, they improved employee well-being significantly by letting any employee stop the assembly line if they saw a problem. While stopping the assembly line was a big deal, they trusted that any employee would know when to do this and the fact they put this trust and decision-making ability into the hands of staff was seen as a huge positive. Technology now allows for more ideas to be collated and reviewed throughout an organisation, so ensure these are being adopted. Do your best to get the information from your employees – they have great ideas, just listen to them.