Key considerations when moving to smart working

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So you’ve decided you’re moving to smart working…what next?

You’re joining the 70% of the UK businesses who by 2020 will have fully adopted smart working. Not only will this result in cost savings and efficiencies for your business it will also result in improved employee communication, satisfaction and retention.

Moving to smart working will impact every aspect of your business and will involve a huge cultural and behavioural change. It will also result in the introduction of new working practices, utilisation of new technologies and a re-think of your office space.

Culture and behavioural change

Cultural and behavioural change is at the heart of moving to smart working. The overarching purpose is to empower your employees to work smarter in order to deliver better outcomes for your business. This means that employee and business performance is measured not on presence in the office but on performance and results.

For many businesses, this presents an enormous cultural and mindset change and must be very carefully managed in order to ensure success. Winning the hearts of minds of everyone within your business, keeping them informed, making sure everyone understands their role and what is in it for them, as well as welcoming feedback are all essential if your move to smart working is going to be successful.

Also important is strong buy-in and support from business leaders, who understand the business benefits, support the consultation of the rest of the organisation and are willing to whole-heartedly adopt smart working practices themselves.

Implementing a robust smart working change management and communications programme is essential. An effective programme will lead the smart working project, educating, engaging and embedding the cultural and behavioural changes required for successful adoption of smart working.

New working practices

With smart working comes new working practices. One of the biggest changes in working practices is in the way employees are managed. Smart working means that you move away from managing by presence and instead to managing by outcome. This means that managers need to adopt different methods for communicating with their teams, monitoring workloads and assessing performance.

Employees have the flexibility to working in different settings and using different methods and tools, which will enable them to achieve results quicker and more efficiently. This means that greater openness and sharing of schedules and information with colleagues and managers is essential.

A smart working office will typically provide a range of working and collaboration areas, geared to facilitate different types of working. Quiet zones for lone working, meeting pods for impromptu one-to-ones, ad hoc meeting rooms for time limited use, breakout areas for informal collaboration, touchdown areas for transient working, and project spaces dedicated to activity-based working form just some of the varied types of spaces you can expect from smart working office. The idea is that employees can chose the right setting to enable them to work as effectively and efficiently as possible.

Technology for a smart workforce

For smart working to be effective the right technology provision is essential. If the concept is the allow for employees to work in the right setting to enable them to be more effective, then their technology needs to enable this. Key technologies to be considered when moving to smart working include the provision of laptops, tablets and smartphones; Wi-Fi enabled office networks; cloud storage and electronic document management systems; remote access technologies; VoIP; video and telephone conferencing facilities; unified communications, and the provision of online collaboration and social networking technologies.

The type of technology adopted depends very much on the company and their business requirements but the over-arching outcome is the same – to provide the tools to enable employees to communication, collaborate and perform as effectively as possible.

Creating a smart workplace

With the new ways of working that accompany smart working practices, the traditional workplace with rows of allocated desks, managerial offices and large meeting and conference rooms, become redundant and inefficient. Instead, smart working practices open up the doors to creating varied and functional working spaces that are designed to facilitate performance and results.

Creating a smart workplace will not only enable you to ensure that your office is being used more efficiently whilst at the same time reducing costs by eliminating wasted space, it will also allow you to make better use of previously under-occupied space.

The first step in creating a smart workplace is to take an evidence-based approach to understanding the type and amount of space needed in the office. We do this by carrying out a number of detailed audits that look at the space utilisation, storage, inter-departmental relationships and communications, work processes, and technology usage. We engage with employees to understand their working behaviours and how they would like to work moving forward and we apply our own expert knowledge and experience to make the best smart working recommendations for your business and office environment.

Every workplace is different and unique and so its important to ensure that the workplace designed caters specifically to your company’s DNA. Getting the right balance of desk ratios to collaborative working areas will depend very much on your business and the outcome of the audits carried out.

Start looking at your workplace strategy today

The sooner you start looking at your workplace strategy the better. This will give you optimal time to plan and effectively manage all of the key areas involved in your move to smart working. We are smart working consultants, so if you need expert advice and support as you embark on your own smart working journey, please get in touch.

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