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Modern working life – increasing a company’s performance by means of more engaged and productive employees

The way we communicate, collaborate and work has a major impact on how engaged and productive we are in our work. The way we work also affects the company’s overall performance. Continuously improving and introducing new work methods is an important corporate strategy over time to be able to meet the requirements and expectations that the business, employees and customers have of the company.

Technology does not create value, it enables new work methods

Technology plays an important role in the way we communicate and work together. But technology itself does not make us better, more engaged or more productive. Technology enables new, improved work methods. It is when these work methods are embedded in our working life – in our culture, our processes and our behaviour – that technology becomes valuable and creates value.

To develop new work methods, you need a clear vision and wide-ranging collaboration

Developing the way we communicate, collaborate and work is an issue that affects the whole company. It is not just an issue for IT, HR, Communication or the business. Ultimate responsibility rests with management. They must set out a clear vision and make it clear to functions like HR, IT, Communication, etc. that they must collaborate, both between themselves and with the business and users. For it to be possible to embed new work methods in the organisation, technology, culture, processes and user behaviour must be developed together.

Improve, discontinue and introduce new work methods through strategic business development

To develop new work methods, you need to create a business strategy around how you want the organisation to function and work together. Technology, culture, processes and behaviour must be viewed from a common, high-level perspective, in which you analyse the current work method with reference to the company’s vision, the business’s targets and the employees’ needs. You identify which work methods can be improved, which should simply be discontinued and which new work methods should be introduced. Work methods are then ranked and prioritised on the basis of their complexity (or to be more precise their simplicity) and expected value, starting with those that are easiest to implement and create the most value.

A journey of many small steps

To translate the business strategy into concrete activities, an iterative, incremental development methodology is recommended, i.e. small changes at a frequent rate. The methodology is important to achieve success. Partly because new or improved work methods need time to mature so that they become embedded in our everyday routines, and partly because you must be able to regularly assess how much progress you have made in order to define the next stages of development. It is also important to be able to show at an early stage what value the initiative is achieving.

Coaching, inspirational leadership to support self-organisation

Strategic business development is about assuming responsibility for development within the company. 

This does not mean that you control exactly how teams and employees should work – quite the opposite! In all organisations there are sub-cultures with a need to do things their way. You must allow and support this if you are to achieve high productivity. To succeed in balancing the need for control (Top-Down and autocracy) with the need for self-organisation (Bottom-Up and holacracy), there is a need for a change in leadership style, with coaching managers inspiring their employees, and where trust and self-determination are the guiding principles.

Continuously communicating, educating and inspiring work methods is crucial

To introduce new work methods, you must continuously communicate and educate users and managers. Teams and individuals must understand the possibilities of technology in order to develop their work methods, which requires knowledge and understanding.

Example of new work method: working as a network

One example of a new work method is to work as a network, which totally changes the way we communicate and collaborate within the company. Social networks break down silos by connecting all employees, regardless of where they are located geographically or organisationally. This results in more transparency, openness and dialogue, as well as more effective collaboration and increased productivity. Bedding in this new work method requires extremely active development work. In this particular example of a work method, self-organisation via a coaching, inspirational leadership style is absolutely necessary for success.

Champions out in the business crucial for the introduction of new work methods

Change emerges most quickly within teams and departments where new work methods are linked to employees’ daily work. It is therefore important to develop a network of “champions” out in the organisation – engaged managers and employees who actively support the new work method and lead by example, helping their colleagues to understand how the new technology works in practice. Once more, being able oneself to translate the opportunities of technology into work methods that are suitable for the individual part of the business means that the change not only happens more quickly, but also generates more value in the form of more engaged, productive employees who work together to achieve the business’s goals.

Joakim Berg
Enterprise Social & Cloud Productivity Advisor, Enfo Zipper