Smart Work: remote, hybrid or flexible
We are part of a steady evolution for some or of a radical change process for others. However we look at it, Smart Work seems to be the resulting way to do business in the very near future. As written in my previous article of this series, the ongoing digital transformation is already strongly affecting politics, communication and society in ways we can clearly feel, try to explain and but hardly understand.
Work is three dimensional
Work in the digital era is currently defined by 3 dimensions (Hackl et al, 2017). Neither dimension can be thought of on its own, if an effective, long lasting and realistic way of Smart Work wants be established. The dimensions are the following:
The three dimensions are deeply intertwined. A small tweak on one area may cause a radical change on one of the others. This inter-connectivity may be one of the main reasons why the elaboration of transformation processes and change management in general are such a tricky task on one hand. On the other, it can be used as a great tool to examine, plan and direct flexibility in all its forms, in order to achieve tangible transformation processes for the long run.
Defining your degree of flexibility
The Swiss University for Applied Psychology (FHNW) has developed a FlexWork-Phase system (Weichbrodt, Berset & Schläppi, 2016), which allows to measure flexibility in four areas of an organization: Infrastructure and architecture (places), technology (tools), working model (people) and organizational structures (all 3 dimensions). The degree of flexibility in these four areas is subdivided into 5 phases, reaching from location-bound & highly hierarchical to location-independent & highly integrated.
|phase 1:||phase 2:||phase 3:||phase 4:||phase 5:|
|location-bound & highly hierarchical||flexibility is an exception||inconsistent & in transition||flexible & project based||location-independent & highly integrated|
|infrastructure & architecture|
The Infrastructure & architecture sphere is covering everything linked to the workplace. It’s spectrum reaches form fixed cubicles to fluid space design, with hot-desk systems and work areas linked to the tasks’ needs (ie. Concentration, meeting, groupwork or privacy-call areas).
The technology sphere analyzes the availability of technological hard- and software allowing and supporting flexible work (space and time independent).
The working model sphere measures the company’s culture (through its values, rules and regulations), comparing them to completely flexible work.
The fourth sphere elicits the flexibility of the organizational structure in terms of teamwork, the shaping of hierarchies and the flow of processes (fix or agile).
Rewind: our three songs
In a previous article, I have established three possible “simplistic” ways of looking at this ongoing change. I have tried to emphasize these points of view with song titles. I agree, this may seem a strange and probably a rather selfish move. I personally often link references and ideas through the help of song lyrics. It helps me remember and understand things. It just happens since I am a child and I kept on doing it.
Where does your company position itself? This is by no means a competiton or test. The cycle of transformation towards an engaging and effective smart working environment is long and often bumpy. In order to start somewhere, I think it to be interesting and inevitable to sincerely reflect as a company, look at ourselves in the mirror and state where and who we are. This allows to better decide where we would like to go, to realistically plan a path And to take enough time to get there.
Kraft, C., Peter, M.K., (2020). New Work: People, Place and Technology – die Arbeitswelt im digitalen Zeitalter. FHNW, Institute for Competitiveness and Communication.
De Vincentiis, P., (2020). Tante aziende pensano di fare smart working, ma in realta è solo telelavoro. Il Sole 24 Ore.
Knight, R., (2020). How to manage a hybrid team. Harvard Business Review.