Dr Shahnaz Hamid, Programme Leader at Interactive Pro, and Edology.com tells us how smarter working improves employees’ performance
The massive growth of technology and globalisation processes have led businesses to break borders and find new ways of improving their employees’ performance. In this context, the concept of “smarter working” has been developed as a response to recent changes in work processes and employer expectations in relation to outcomes and productivity. Although organisations have only started to implement the principles of smarter working, this approach can be considered an effective way of improving employee engagement, motivation, performance and productivity at both individual and organisational levels.
What is smarter working?
Smarter working is a complex approach of managing individuals’ work by offering them more flexibility, autonomy and means for collaboration through the innovative use of information and communication technology. At the organisational level, smarter working can be regarded as a managerial strategy to establish effective work processes and communication between employees.
Thus, the key features of this approach are the provision of a level of flexibility depending on the productivity or specific needs of employees, less dependence on workplace and office areas and the active use of technology to promote communication and collaboration.
Consequently, the application of the principles of smarter working in an organisation leads to arranging offices according to employees’ needs to provide them with opportunities for working alone or in a team, as well as using flexible working hours and remote work options.
Smarter working is associated with organising employees’ work in a way that most suits their own needs and capacities. While being provided with opportunities to choose flexible working hours and the place to work, an employee can decide what schedule to follow and whether to work in an office or from home in order to be more creative and productive. The result of this approach is the increase in employees’ autonomy, enthusiasm, productivity and engagement.
Smarter working can be applied by managers to improve performance, but this may require some changes to their corporate culture. This approach is more suitable for organisations that follow a people-centred culture, are agile and can easily create dynamic teams of empowered employees. This way, employees with different work styles can utilise their potential and successfully contribute and collaborate to achieve individual and organisational goals.
Recommendations for achieving smarter working
To achieve the principle of smarter working for improving employee performance, follow these recommendations:
- Managers should change their focus from evaluating work through “presence or absence at the workplace” to evaluating the outcomes. Therefore, employees should be allowed to select the number of working hours and the place of work depending on their goals and deadlines.
- It is necessary to share schedules of all employees and provide proper channels for contacting one another. Collaboration is an important component of smarter working and should be facilitated despite the presence or absence of employees within a single office.
- Organisations must guarantee the availability of suitable technology to conduct virtual meetings and enhance online communication. Access to electronic documentation and other tools should be provided to all employees and they should not be limited in this area.
- If the employees are working from the office, they should not be limited to assigned workspaces for completing their tasks and should be allowed to use other spaces as well. It is good to be aware of the specific conditions that make the employee more productive and motivated, including preferences to work in quiet spaces, at the office or at home.
- Managers can determine peak hours of productivity for every employee in order to set a schedule that will contribute to enhancing their performance. This way each employee will be able to reach their highest level of productivity and achieve the desired goals.
Enhancing organisational performance through smarter working
If employees work at convenient locations and choose appropriate working hours, they will certainly become more focused, stimulated and motivated to achieve their goals. As a result, their performance improves and distractions and mistakes are greatly eliminated.
Technology has contributed to making cooperation and communication simpler and dynamic, so team members across borders are able to communicate and work effectively. Therefore, it is possible to save on valuable resources, decrease costs and steer employee energy in the right direction to achieve organisational goals.
Organisations should appreciate the fact that smarter working is associated with more flexibility, independence and freedom for employees to become more responsible and deliver the desired outcomes. This approach leads employees to be better motivated to become more productive.
Smarter working is being actively applied in modern organisations to recognise employee needs, address their talents and improve their productivity. The realisation of this principle is associated with accepting the presence of various work styles that should be taken into account while managing employees.
Dr Shahnaz Hamid
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