The future of work and the workplace has been one of the hottest topics both inside and outside the industry in recent weeks. It shaped the entire agenda at this year’s WORKTECH17 event, which, incidentally, showcased some promising and innovative solutions aimed at driving efficiencies and improving productivity. It has also been making headlines across the national UK media, with calls for a four day work week hailed as the way forward for the workplace of the future.
Supporters have even launched the ‘4DayWeek’ campaign with the ‘pro’ argument focusing on the many positive benefits it could bring to the UK society in general, from the economy and the environment to employee health and democracy. The notion of a four day week is also being met with opposition, with some businesses questioning how it could possibly work for certain industries and public services where not everybody can take the same days off and there is little room for flexibility.
Whatever the pros and cons of a 5:2 week versus a 4:3, what’s clear is that the shorter week supporters are not suggesting that working fewer hours equate to less work being done. On the contrary, there are claims it would boost productivity, in other words, the value created by each hour worked. It’s about a shift in people’s perspectives – that better work, means achieving more in less hours and that would undoubtedly have a positive impact on the employer and the wider economy. Evidently, it does seem to work for other European countries, for example, Germany and the Netherlands have some of the lowest number of hours worked per year yet they have the highest levels of GDP per person.
According to the 2016 research carried out by the CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development), 54 percent of UK employees worked flexibly in some capacity and that number was predicted to rise this year. The modern workplace has evolved, technological advances have already brought a demise in the 9-5 culture, remote working is rising and traditional working methods are being blown out of the water. Technology has been the trigger in the changing working practices and processes, so could this be the answer to a four-day working week and employees being more productive and effective in less time?
As a distributor of creative workplace solutions, we have certainly seen first-hand how the latest technology can truly make a difference in the modern working environment. Solutions such as Nureva’s Span cloud-based collaboration system promotes both productivity and creativity by encouraging employees to work more closely together generating ideas and solving problems.
The solution transforms common paper tools such as sticky notes, pencil sketches, flip charts into flexible digital versions on an expansive virtual canvas and this can be accessed on an office wall or from any handheld device. Each employee can create, edit and organise their contributions in real time – regardless of their proximity to the system or their geographical location. It saves time, improves collaboration and complements many of today’s modern working methods such as agile and lean.
Another area where productivity could definitely be improved in the workplace is meetings. Most businesses probably waste a working day every week on lengthy meetings which turn out to be ineffective and inconclusive. It may sound basic, but solving common problems with communication should be top of the list to improve meeting room performance. Nureva’s answer to this is its latest HDL300 audio conferencing solution that combines patented technology and 8,192 microphones to ensure everyone can be heard during meetings, either in the room or remotely.
Managing meeting room bookings can also save time and prevent scenarios such as double bookings, confusion and interrupted meetings. Swedish innovator Evoko has created its next-generation touch-screen solution to enable companies to manage their bookings more efficiently. The Evoko Liso is a company-wide meeting room management platform designed to alleviate the disruption caused by mismanaged room bookings and give businesses full insight into their meeting patterns. The solution will help companies to better plan and optimise resources and ensure they get the right room for every single meeting. Another productivity booster for today’s forward-looking workplace.
Whether the four day week ever becomes a reality or not there are several scenarios where tradition could be replaced by technology to enhance the way we work as individuals and as collaborative teams. WORKTECH17 brought us multiple examples of how innovation might shape the workplace of the future. Surely the aim for many organisations is to achieve more in less time, whether it shortens the week by one minute, one hour or one day. Working better and producing more? That’s worth a day off in anyone’s book.