As we begin making plans to resume some of our ‘normal’ behaviors, it’s time to think more seriously about whether what we knew to be normal was really a good way of doing things in the first place. For many of us, a lot of our habits may have simply been picked up subconsciously, or perhaps we were forced to do things a certain way when we joined an organization. Now that everything has been turned upside-down, we have the chance to not just go back to business as usual, but to make thoughtful decisions about what processes and systems are best suited for the workplace and work day of the future.
One of the most significant opportunities we have before us is the chance to reframe the way we structure our organizations. Historically, the units of a company have been single employees, or rolling up to a higher level, departments focused on one specific function (e.g. sales, marketing, HR). As many industries continue to see increased complexity year-over-year though, and as technology fundamentally changes the mechanics of many jobs, we have to change our approach. In order to succeed in the world of tomorrow, including rebounding effectively from this crisis, we should begin thinking of our companies in terms of shifting, cross-functional teams.
At least since the time of the Industrial Revolution, the ideal worker was the one who would put in the most hours at the highest productivity level for the lowest pay. Without commenting on the workers’ rights concerns related to this model, this generally made sense for roles like manufacturing and some service jobs. With more than half of U.S. employees now qualifying as knowledge workers however, it’s time to reevaluate. When your employee’s role requires mental alertness and creative thinking, evaluating them based on number of hours worked doesn’t really make sense. Similarly, given the risk and expense of turnover in this sector of the economy, trying to minimize salaries isn’t logical either. When 43% of workers would switch jobs for just a 10% salary increase, companies must provide more incentive to stay.
Instead, adaptability, collaboration, and innovation should be among the key traits of the new ideal worker, at least in knowledge-based industries. Business demands can shift extremely rapidly, and unless the team is ready to change formations and work across departments with new colleagues and requirements at a moment’s notice, it will be difficult to stay ahead of the competition. Companies should now aim to become ecosystems of dynamic, cross-functional teams, with employees building up collective knowledge and developing new skills as they recombine into new groupings. By empowering staff to work across departments and deliverables, communication will improve, productivity will increase, and employees will feel happier and more engaged in their jobs.
In order to achieve this however, it’s not just a mindset shift that is needed; toolsets must change as well. We can’t continue to rely on the same old programs and structures that were designed decades ago to maximize individual employee productivity. We have to begin thinking of our workforces as a series of circuits that we can connect together to generate light, and our physical and digital spaces must reflect this as well. Such a transformation won’t happen overnight, but it is essential to ensure the continued growth of our organizations and to restructure our work environments to align with the new world of work.
Workrowd is designed to enable you to quickly set up and break down digital teamwork spaces for shifting groups of employees. While we have a strong focus on culture and engagement, krowds can be put in place for project teams as well, giving everyone a place to centralize documents, chat, plan meetings and events, connect with other members, and more, all in one place. If you’d like to learn more about how our lightweight software can help you transition to a more flexible, team-based structure, don’t hesitate to get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.