How to create a more productive workplace

Anthony Bruce, a partner in PwC’s human resources consulting practice, outlines what technologies and best practices organisations can use to empower employees to work from anywhere

Rebecca Gibson
Rebecca Gibson
By Rebecca Gibson on 20 August 2018
How to create a more productive workplace

This article was originally published in the Summer 2018 issue of The Record. 

What challenges do companies face when creating flexible, digital-first workplaces?
People working remotely need the same tools they’d have in a traditional office environment, so implementing the right technology is important. However, the biggest challenge is to create the right culture. Employees want the freedom to work wherever and whenever they want, but they still desire the ‘water-cooler chat’ experience. Companies must create a culture where employees feel like they’re working alongside their workmates, despite being in different physical locations. Working from home can sometimes be counterintuitive to a healthy work-life balance because employees feel obliged to answer phone calls or e-mails outside of traditional working hours. Hence, it’s crucial for organisations to review their flexible working arrangements and set clear policies.

What technologies are organisations using to actively improve worker productivity?
Mobile technology has transformed the workplace, while communication tools, such as Yammer, are helping companies to share knowledge and information in new ways. Wearable technology is also being used to monitor employees’ health and stress levels to improve their well-being and reduce absences. There’s been an increase in wearables that track and assess employee efficiency, particularly at supermarkets and delivery companies. Some organisations are using workforce allocation technology to identify the most cost-effective and productive combination of full-time, part-time and gig economy workers.

Are there any best practices companies can implement to better support employees to work flexibly?
Employers must identify the business problem that they’re trying to solve. Do they want to create a more productive and agile workforce? Are they trying to reduce costs? Do they want to encourage the use of new technology? Is it a combination of all these factors? Executives must also lead the cultural transformation. There’s no point in encouraging employees to work remotely if senior management sit at their office desk all week.

How will the future workplace evolve?
Although there’s not been a reduction in large companies taking up office space in big cities, there’s been an increase in pop-up offices and collaborative workspaces. Anywhere with internet connectivity can now become a workplace, whether it’s a coffee shop or an airport departure lounge. Meanwhile, the gig economy will continue to grow. PwC’s Workforce of the Future research found that being able to control how and when they work is a top factor for people when it comes to their future career. Only 23% of UK employees said they wanted to work in a traditional office.

 

 

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