Business Reimagined: Why work isn’t working and what you can do about it

The following is a post from Nick Morris, head of business public relations at Microsoft U.K.

The trends of flexible working, social business and how employees and managers need to change the way they operate to take advantage of them, are all explored in a recently-published book written by Microsoft U.K.’s Dave Coplin.

The key message is empowerment. Technology is here to empower people. But that doesn’t work if human structures, habits or fears constrain them. Reimagining business is about waking up to a new environment, based on collaborative and flexible working, on technology that, used correctly, liberates rather than constrains. The future of work must be based on being open, on focusing on results, not process, and on empowerment, not hierarchy.

In many ways it seems that we are all living the technology dream. The advent of the Internet, then the Web and the ever faster evolution of services and devices have transformed the way people live their lives.

The technologists among us would say that now the ever-accelerating trends of mobile, cloud, big data and social are transforming the IT landscape, which means that we live in a period where technology is all around us, where it has become a natural, normal part of our everyday lives.

But over the past few years, a nagging sense of doubt has been growing about how true this utopian vision of technology as the ultimate liberator for the workplace is. Some wonder whether the very thing that was supposed to set us free might not have instead ensnared us without truly adding the value it so richly promised.

Employees are disengaged as never before. In surveys, only a third say they are actively engaged in their work.

We have lost sight of the fact that we are all, for the most part, professional, independent, creative beings, employed by our organizations to help them achieve great outcomes.

There are several aspects of knowledge work that seem broken. Open plan offices suck at creativity, workers struggle under the weight of communications burdened by an inability to use the new tools effectively.

We are stuck in old ways of managing, communicating and collaborating. We measure success by process, not by outcome. It is time to harness the power of collaboration and flexible working to rethink the way we work towards a better, more agile, more creative working environment.

The modern workplace has simply become the culmination of our past experiences, where the place, people and processes are no longer optimized to how we live our lives now, either at work or even at play.

The massive risk here is that in a world defined by its processes and not its outcomes, working smarter is not an option, and the only feasible other alternative is simply to work harder

We need to take a more flexible approach to both the workplace and the work we do; one that provides us both the physical and cognitive space to harness the incredible power, insight and experience we offer; focused not on the individual processes but instead on the overall outcomes our organizations seek to achieve.

The Business Reimagined book is available from Amazon, Waterstones, WHSmith Travel and the publisher’s website and, for a limited period, the ebook for Kindle from Amazon is available for FREE, so get your copy and encourage others to download it too! And do join the ongoing conversation on twitter at #bizreimagined.

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