Jabra – Here’s How to Master the Third Wave of Knowledge Work
The knowledge worker has finally been liberated from the mindset of the organizational, industrial production line. Collaboration technology gives us a cheaper, better, and more purposeful way of knowledge sharing and working together. Are you, as a manager, ready to manage the third wave of knowledge?
I have always found how we mentally define work interesting, and how that definition affects the way we manage our employees. Because, honestly, it really should not matter at which desk we carry out our work assignments. Yet, to quite a few managers, this seems to be of great importance.
Many have spoken about this conundrum – this definition of work as a place rather than a product. According to my dictionary, there are three different definitions of work: work as a physical location, the actual task at hand, and the level of effort. My message is that we modern managers have to liberate ourselves from the first to be able to focus on making the second and third one a success.
Liberation from a physical location might just make your employees happier and more productive.
Perhaps this sounds a bit too holistic for your taste, but recent Stanford research points to a 13 percent increase in productivity in organizations which allow remote working. According to this study, employees got nine percent more work done when they worked from home, because they took less time off to take the kids to the dentist, their breaks were shorter, and they were four percent more effective, while they were working. As it turned out, after having tried working from home, not everyone found it to their liking. Consequently, a fair portion of the employees returned to the office to work, but just having the option of working from home made overall productivity soar at a full 22 percent.
This trend is bound to continue. In 2015, IDG predicts that the worldwide mobile workforce will amount to a staggering 1.3 billion. We are also becoming ever more mobile, and thus, Forrester predicts that the number of mobile broadband users will exceed the number of PC broadband users in 2016.
So, how do we, as managers, master and exploit the full potential of the third wave of knowledge work?
Create a culture of collaboration. With a mobile workforce managers will be required to lift collaboration to a strategic level by setting goals and creating a culture of collaboration for better, faster, and more integrated innovation.
Reconstruct infrastructure. Make the most of your remote talent and ensure an equal footing with the office-centric employees. Exploiting global talent and mobile workers can only become valuable if the workflow and work process can “make use of” their input on a daily basis. Gathering your employees on a collaborative platform will move the project forward quickly and has the potential to create a very tightly knit community, despite its members being physically distant.
Rethink your own mindset toward the physical workspace. It is more important than ever to rethink the use of office space. Knowledge workers should not be forced to commit to mindless “presentism.” Instead, interaction should be accommodate the individual worker’s work style and not be restricted to an organizationally perceived need for people to be present in the office. If you provide options, you will be rewarded with an increase in productivity.
Invest in intuitive technology. Intuitive technology is quickly adopted for the simple reason that it is just that – intuitive – and therefore compatible with the way most users think and act. IT must comply with human behavior and present the user with a relative advantage. Otherwise, no matter how expensive a setup, it will be dropped like a hot potato. Technology requiring hours of training or the alteration of a mindset is doomed to low adoption rates.
Recognise idiosyncrasy. Work/life balance is very important to the knowledge worker. Individualization and customization is important for any employer to accommodate. This includes different ways of working, different needs for devices, media, and platforms, and different needs for training and education, which can all be addressed with the productivity and motivation of the individual employee in mind.
Wow, that was quite a mouthful and to be honest, I think we still have a long way to go. We need to change our mindsets and our organizations to accommodate this trend, because otherwise we run the risk of failing to attract and retain the talent we need to make our businesses successful.
Holger Reisinger is Senior Vice President of Marketing for Products and Alliances at Jabra.