Work has changed. The way we work and how we measure success has changed drastically over the last few decades. Over the next few years, this will become evident in the way businesses structure their work schedules and their hierarchies. Future Work author Peter Thomson compares our shifting work attitudes to the industrial revolution, but now dubbing it the ‘Information Revolution’ in relation to the fact that the majority of companies recognise their wealth in relation to the digital wealth they have acquired, this has become a general yardstick for success. With a huge reliance on online content, new jobs and new sectors have emerged. In order to optimise results in this new industry landscape, here are four ways businesses will change for the better in the coming decades:
4 Day Working Weeks:
With the technological advance of business, it stands to reason that workers can become more efficient and therefore working hours can be reduced proportionally. In a recent article by the Bristol Post, general secretary of the TUC proposed that if properly utilised, technology could benefit companies and allow for a shorter working week, while optimising productivity. For example, these extra days off work could be used as an incentive for workers to achieve the same amount of work, if not more, within a reduced time-frame.
More Value For Work:
This relates to the above point in that, the fear behind reducing the working week to four days is that productivity will drop off and businesses will suffer. However, as shown in this article from the Creative Review, the more worker’s are valued, the more they become motivated and focused, the trade-off between reduced work hours and improved productivity seems to produce positive results. As well as this, the technology sector, which now covers most businesses, is expected to boost the UK GDP by close to £200 billion in the next 10 years, so making this more streamlined and efficient can only produce positive results.
Less Stress, More Care:
Burnout is a very real danger for workers today, as Inc.com noted in this blog. So a more self-aware and caring business model, will only serve to improve employee performance. Being more sympathetic to worker’s needs and approaching them with understanding, is more likely to produce employee’s who are willing to work harder for their company, rather than worker’s who are embittered and resentful about the stress they are put under. This has already been shown to be effective with measures such as improved paternity leave for new fathers in countries such as Sweden.
Putting more responsibility in the hands of workers, rather than reserving it for a small, upper tier of management is an efficient way to make workers invest more in their job and therefore put more care and focus into their roles. With previous business hierarchies focussing on single leadership holding a large amount of responsibility, this has shown to be ineffective given that employees are usually bereft of knowledge apart from what is trickled down to them. A move to a structure that shares leadership and therefore accountability would threaten a lot of current managerial positions, but would also produce a shared autonomy and improved work ethic, most likely from smaller, more focused teams.
Currently, in the UK any business of 250 employees must submit its payroll records to the government for scrutiny of their gender pay equality. On 1st January this year Iceland passed legislation that obliges firms of 25 people or more "to obtain a government certificate demonstrating their pay equality, or they will face fines." While this may paint the UK as extremely retrograde, it is in fact more indicative of a larger problem in business, of how 50% of the workforce is terribly undervalued. In order to maximise potential, this 50% must receive equal value for their work and the recent legislation passed in Iceland is indicative of a beginning of a trend which can only be positive.
In general, compared to twenty years ago, the types of businesses people work in has changed dramatically but their work hours and management structures have stayed the same. In order to adapt to the new business landscape, companies must not be afraid to throw out tradition and become flexible in their approach, otherwise they will be forever stuck in the past.