You may have seen that we’re advocates of the Modern Workplace. It therefore makes perfect sense that we’ve implemented the principles and the technology in our own workplace and with our own workforce.
Now, I’m a bit of a Verde ‘long timer’, having been here since 2014 (actually a growing number of us are long timers, because we’re in an organisation which keeps us happy). Through that time, we’ve progressed more towards a Modern Workplace as the enabling tools have fallen into place, but the crucial thing is that even before the technology came along, we had the right culture.
This is a crucial point which I’ll get out the way right up front. Culture is the biggest barrier for any organisation considering the Modern Workplace (MW). Bigger even than whether (or not) your type of work even lends itself to flexibility, working anywhere, and the absence of fixed office hours. If your workplace culture is one of clock-watching and paying people by the hours they while away at the desk, any move to MW will be difficult or even impossible – particularly if management doesn’t buy into it.
We’re fortunate that our work does lend itself; more importantly, our leadership puts its courage where the convictions lie, and have provided the necessary enabling environment.
What motivates you
What that means for employees is that as a ‘first principle’ we’re all entrusted with our responsibilities. We know what we need to do and by when it needs to be done. We are incentivised and by and measured on outcomes, not how long we spend doing it.
Just think about that for a moment. When paying people by the hour, you are in effect incentivising them to take longer and be inefficient. By outcome, you’re incentivising efficiency and accuracy – accuracy, because doing it again takes time away from the individual.
The tools enabling the MW aren’t exactly revolutionary and they are highly accessible – to the extent that any office in New Zealand can afford them. In a word or two, you could say ‘Office 365’, with Teams a core component enabling efficient communication and collaboration.
Something easily understood (presence – that is, the availability of any person) is crucial; after all, not everyone has a ‘9 to 5’ programme in their circadian rhythms (we have one individual who prefers working at night, for example – it’s just the way he’s wired – and napping in the afternoon).
Presence means this individual can be highly productive by sticking to natural rhythms, while colleagues can easily see when he’s available.
Modern Workplace for modern living
This leads into the major benefits of the MW. Flexibility. Flexibility is enormously valuable to just about anyone and everyone in the modern world. We have kids, we have responsibilities outside of work, we have lives to live.
None of that means we don’t value our work or take it seriously, but when you’re enabled to work when convenient and ‘do life’ when it demands, the simple fact is that stress goes down. Productivity goes up. Happiness goes up, too – there are very few cheerful faces in Auckland traffic at 07h57, and with the MW, you simply do not have to be one of those.
There’s even more to flexibility than avoiding the traffic and getting on with other parts of life as they demand it. While Auckland is a city we can all be proud of, there’s a lot more to New Zealand and, given our amazing internet connectivity, it means people can choose to live elsewhere and still be a part of a high-performance technology team.
That’s a benefit for the regions and it is a benefit for Auckland itself. Relieves the pressure a bit, potentially. And as you’ll appreciate, with a more motivated, more satisfied and happier workforce means existing staff members are likely to want to keep working for you, while new ones including millennials, will see your company as a desirable place for their career.
(Note that you can install and get great benefit from the MW enabling tools, without actually moving to a MW in form or function; there’s literally nothing preventing you!)
Is your business ready for the Modern Workplace?
Here’s a bottom line of sorts. If you’re considering a MW approach for your business, start by analysing the type of work your people do. Understand that MW requires a very different management approach (and management can be more difficult, too, as measurement isn’t as cut and dried as seeing Bob and Brenda at their desk). Be brutally honest about your existing work culture, while knowing that changing culture is entirely possible, but is never easy.
But if it can and does work for you, expect higher quality output and more meaningful employment for your people.