Twenty-first century businesses are rapidly moving from the old quantity/quality paradigm of working harder to the concept of working smarter. No longer does time equate to productivity. Working smart has become the way for companies to take on new challenges while also offering employees flexibility and alternatives to the traditional work structure.
Let’s look at the main principles of this new technology-enabled philosophy.
Increased Corporate Flexibility
Studies such as those discussed in the New York Times’ opinion piece “Relax! You’ll be More Productive” by Tony Schwartz show that the number of hours worked and productivity are, in fact, two different things. The author notes that, “Paradoxically, the best way to get more done may be to spend more time doing less.” This realization has encouraged many companies to adopt the practice of flextime where employees define their own work schedules without constraints imposed from above.
Doing this assumes a certain level of trust in employees. It also means communicating important parameters: it means they work smarter and more independently as well as at their own pace. A Harvard study recently estimated that lack of sleep from overwork (ironically) costs $63.2 billion annually to American companies.
Traditional workplaces are being challenged by new methods of remote collaboration, which permit the outsourcing of jobs that were once performed at a single location. Companies today largely embrace this concept of mobility, and possess the technology to make it happen. Employees can work alone or in teams, wherever they may be. They can work from home, while traveling or even directly from the road. Last March, a Microsoft Canada study showed that 55% of Canadian employees think they’re more productive when they work outside the traditional workplace.
Increased mobility has also resulted in time savings, especially for employees who would otherwise have a long commute.
Improved Remote Collaboration Tools
Technology remains the best answer to problems created by increased mobility and flexibility. As companies move towards greater decentralization, they increasingly require efficient methods for virtual or remote collaboration. Two of the most versatile options are cloud computing and remote collaboration tools such as web conferencing.
Virtual interaction, improved performance and real time communications enable employees to work from anywhere they have an internet connection, creating virtual workspaces. These technologies not only remove physical constraints, they also improve the organization of daily tasks, resulting in greater efficiencies.
This means that businesses can enjoy increased productivity along with significant savings in hardware costs and reductions in the expenses associated with maintaining physical offices.
Today, business work quality is determined by three key factors: practices, physical environment and technology. With the right tools and infrastructure and a willingness to change, companies can adapt to current trends, creating a culture of efficiency without being limited by the old ways of doing business.