A recent report – The Future of Work – from the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, in association with the work-life balance charity, Working Families argues that employers need to adapt to a changing world of work to ensure they continue to attract the right talent. Discussing with employees how they want work to work, letting them have a say in what hours and days they want to work, looking at working patterns to provide clients with 24/7 service, ‘virtual working’ and redesigning the contract of employment are just some of the measures the report suggests.
In particular, the report suggests ways to reshape business, including:
- More proactive talent management: HR directors should take the initiative with staff, by acknowledging and developing them as they go through various life stages, giving them scope to change so that they continue to be effective.
- Be more flexible with flexible working: give everyone, including men, the opportunity to say what hours and days they would work to fulfil their workload.
- See work as an activity, not a destination: using advances in technology such as virtual working and fewer offices.
Comment: The report makes the case for replacing a corporate way of working with a creative way of working; replacing bureaucracy with a network, and ‘top down management’ with collaborative structures.
It all makes sense – and is what a number of business thinkers have been saying for some years. Unfortunately, all of these views have counted for little in the real world. The up-and-coming senior managers of tomorrow may want to be more collaborative and flexible in their way of working – but the real decisions are still taken by those who have succeeded in the old traditional ‘command and control’ management structure. Things aren’t going to change for a while – regardless of what any piece of research reveals or recommends.