Smart Working is something that has been around for a few years, but was really just something discussed or researched, without being widely implemented across the corporate work culture. However, with the effects of COVID-19 turning the corporate work environment on its head, smart working is now being re-evaluated by CEOs and researchers alike.
Smart Working is a ‘buzzword‘ that simply means allowing employees to work when and how they see fit.
The idea is that more flexibility helps to reduce the anxiety and stress amongst employees seeking to find a conducive “work-life” balance that works for them.
More and more employees are burning out from the strain of feeling chained to their (remote) desks and smartphones 24/7 for work, and simply just don’t want to choose between their jobs and quality of life outside of work.
Although younger demographics take the lead in those surveyed, with over half saying they would leave their job for another that offered more flexibility, the preference is pretty strong from other demographics, as well.
It’s no surprise that there is a push for change in this day and age, from a variety of employees. We have simply outgrown the working models of previous generations that required (for the most part) a physical presence from sunup to sundown, with a pat on the back for coming in earlier and leaving later than our peers.
Technology has enabled us to change the way we work, and it’s time to consider how to apply remote working tools to better allow us to still perform our duties well, while not feeling like we will miss out on 30 (or more) years of our lives.
There are a lot of pros to consider with the Smart Working model.
There are some workers that like to rise with the sun, and feel they are most productive early in the morning with fewer distractions from others.
Interruptions can absolutely kill creativity and focus, so taking care of tasks that require immense concentration without the worry of meetings or other responsibilities can not only ensure they’ll be done correctly, but also more efficiently.
This can, in general, save companies time and money, and allow the employee to feel they’re being productive without spinning their wheels and dragging out progress over the course of what could be days.
Employees can take breaks as they are needed throughout the day, to clear their minds or take some time to give other duties attention for a short period of time.
Many working parents struggle with the care of children at different periods throughout the day, and the guilt that comes from not being able to provide enough attention when it’s needed the most. Taking time to make sure a child is taken care of can allow them to circle back to work responsibilities when they can give them their undivided attention.
As long as deadlines are not missed, this flexibility goes a long way in promoting the endurance of the employee, and increases their chances of job satisfaction.
With that being said, there can also be cons to the Smart Working model.
Some employees may not flourish with more flexibility, and may instead fall short from not being able to self regulate with boundaries and holding themselves accountable.
The 9-to-5 work structure allows them to have an “on/off switch” with very clear separations between work and home life. Depending on the structure of the team, Smart Working may promote disorganization amongst employees, and hinder communication or delay deadlines.
If you have a team of people working different hours throughout the day, this may put a strain on management to corral everyone together, without someone feeling as though preferences have been given to certain workers that aren’t asked to sacrifice their schedule.
Depending on management styles, this may discourage certain personality types from considering careers in management, as it is an extra burden to bear.
Managers may also find that some employees may abuse such a work environment, as they may not feel as monitored, and therefore can work significantly less hours in the day.
Of course, it’s not just employees that must be considered, but also how this environment may affect the company as a whole. Less employees working the same hours could allow companies to save millions of dollars on actual workspace and utilities often required to run such a large scale location.
And, companies may notice less sick days and vacation time taken by employees as well, as they may feel more energized for longer durations of time.
There are clearly many benefits to be gained from considering Smart Working, from both the employee and employer perspective. As no working model is perfect, it does provide some aspects that require more consideration, but it may be found the positive impact outweighs the concerns a company may have.
Whether this is something considered solely for the pandemic we find ourselves in, or a longer term working model, I believe Smart Working is something that we will hear about more frequently in the future.