Are You Preparing For The Changing World Of Work?


Thursday, 9.24pm

Sheffield, U.K.

Of course you are. Why wouldn’t you be?

If you’re running a large organisation, putting the systems in place to help your team work anytime anywhere has been a top priority for your IT team.

It’s also been the priority for the last tech giants for the last decade. And now you can run your entire business from the cloud.

If you’re a newish company, that way of working must just seem natural.

But here’s the challenge, as I see it.

A Google funded study in 2010 found, perhaps unsurprisingly, that collaboration and innovation are closely correlated.

So, encouraging the first should help with the second.

So, how do you go about that? Well, you start by providing the tools that organisations like Google sell – according to them anyway.

And that raises other issues, and perhaps some of these are familiar to you as well.

In most organisations, the balance between having room to create and innovate and the need to be secure and locked down usually ends with everything being locked down.

You’re free to do anything you want, as long as it’s in Microsoft Excel or Google Docs.

And that is increasingly not very much. In the online version of Excel, for example, you can’t really do much with macros or automation. Getting started is harder in Google docs.

Many employees in companies are probably frustrated.

Frustrated because they know what good should look like, but they’re working with tools that are so limited for security reasons that they might as well be working with a typewriter for all the increased productivity they get.

Now, that’s not an easy circle to square. Yes you’d love to give all employees a free rein to do whatever they like. But you don’t want your system crashed or open to anyone, especially someone who decides to delete all your data because they have a grudge.

I know of many organisations that still struggle with simple tasks – like doing a mail merge. They still have to edit and send out documents one by one.

At the other extreme – you have some who say that what you need in a company to be innovative is people that wear t-shirts that say things like “Safety third”.

The first time someone actually has an accident, however, the lawyers will come in and close everything down.

It may be that we’re in the middle of trying to reconcile and understand this new way of working.

Or – more likely – we’ve simply had this problem all the time. How do we get people and machines to work better together.

And the place to start is – we don’t.

Machines are good at repetitive, mechanical tasks.

People are good at creative and social tasks.

We should start by getting machines and people to do what they are good at.

It’s only when we have to get machines and people working together that we should, very reluctantly, put them together.

Does that sound bonkers. Completely unreasonable?

Well… let me ask you this.

If you weren’t able to get to your mobile phone all the time – perhaps you left it at home – just how much more work would you get done without being interrupted?


Karthik Suresh

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