Wherever you look, the future of work is being discussed everywhere. It’s no accident. Scientists, politicians and economists are working intensively on the question of what effects our networked, fast-moving and increasingly complex world has on organizations and individuals. Some of the most important influencing factors are:
- the increasing degree of automation of routine work
- digital solutions that facilitate our private life and daily work processes at best, but in any case change them significantly
- the advance of knowledge work
Entrepreneurs, freelancers, HR professionals, graduates – everyone is asking themselves: How will we work tomorrow? In which structures and under which conditions? What conditions can and must be given so that we all benefit? Many answers have to be found to these questions, because they are particularly relevant to the topic of employee motivation. In this article we present a solution approach: Flexwork.
Working models should be individual
Rigid working models can hamper the flexibility of companies, regardless of their organizational form. Flexible working in terms of time and place, also known as flexwork, is an important strategy when it comes to making companies fit for the future. But what does this mean exactly? In fact, some aspects of flexwork are already part of the modern world of work. Part-time contracts, flexible working hours, trust-based working hours, flexible holiday arrangements, home office and co-working spaces are aspects of flexible work organization and are no longer exotic. The core issue is to adapt working hours and working environment to the newly emerging conditions. For example, companies can react directly to seasonal and economic fluctuations or to changing customer needs at short notice.
Flexibilization of working hours
Employees, who are mainly assigned to projects, work when an upcoming task requires it. They have a time account, which can be “charged” or “credited” depending on the order situation. They therefore work in a capacity-oriented manner. Incidentally, an increasing number of companies are also coordinating internal tasks that have no direct reference to customer orders as independent projects. Provided that there is appropriate transparency, employees can contribute according to their individual competencies and availability, especially where they are currently needed. However, this type of work requires a high degree of coordination. Planning processes should be clear, transparent, customer- and employee-oriented so that the advantages of this project-related structure can be brought to bear.
Flexibilization of the workplace
Home office days and co-working spaces are already an integral part of the corporate culture in many companies. Part of the weekly working time is done at home. On office days, they work in a place that can be used by others when they are absent. This saves costs and increases the personal responsibility and efficiency of the employees. Traditional and new working models are by no means mutually exclusive. They can stand next to each other as a complement. Here too, attention should be paid to clear rules. Employees who work remotely need well-functioning communication channels and binding processes.
The younger generations live more mobile and would also like to work more mobile
The flexibility in core areas of the labour market, which will be more strongly demanded in the future, thus places greater demands on the workers. They should be flexible in time and place. But to whom do these conditions suit?
The majority of graduates today have no desire to work in the office for five days a week. The balance between work and leisure time plays an important role in the lives of young employees. What initially sounds like a lot of self-realization and little enthusiasm is beneficial for the change in the world of work. The keyword here is lifestyle integration. It is important for the young generation to have working hours that they can adapt to their everyday life. Whether it is a matter of reconciling family and career, or working at the precise moment when ideas flow. Employees should communicate and decide where they are most productive – in the office, at home or in a café. In the end, this benefits everyone.
Flexibility requires attitude
If professionally supported by the company, employees take on more responsibility and are more satisfied in the long term. It should be noted that the “more” in sovereignty must be partially relearned – especially by employees who previously suffered from the micromanagement of their superiors. Managers must first build up mutual trust among their employees, allow self-organization, allow areas of action and also be able to “let go”. Then companies profit from a lived sense of responsibility, more motivated employees and hopefully (!) increased productivity.
Our guest author
Jürgen Niemann is a passionate HR consultant and managing director of the start-up company betterHR. The company has set itself the goal of providing clients with cost-effective digital HR consulting. With over 24 years in HR, he has a broad range of experience in various HR topics.