November 24, 2022
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8 min

What is smart working?

Smart working is a new form of work organization that optimizes the company's resources to satisfy management and employees

What is smart working?

It's very simple: work smart by taking into account the new forms of hybrid work organizations, the post-covid environment and the role of new technologies.

The principle of smart working is to revolutionize the way we understand our way of working.

Why do organizations need to become more flexible?

There are several major steps that characterize the practice of smart working in companies. In this article we will detail how you can improve your performance by optimizing the way your teams work.

Smart working is a concept born of new technologies and new ways of working new hybrid work modes (telecommuting, flex office, hot desking) that offers more flexibility and adaptability to the modern work organization.

Smart working: what is it?

Smart working is a set of managerial practices created to help organizations rethink their approach to work, and to encourage them to adopt digital innovations

The idea behind it is to give people the autonomy and flexibility to choose where, when and how to work, focusing on results and outcomes rather than counting hours in the office.

As companies strive to offer more innovative products and services, reduce operational costs and increase employee engagement, the war for talent is becoming increasingly intense! Smart working appears to be a solution of the future, as the COVID-19 pandemic has shown, and companies must adopt it today.

Smart working = future

For many employees, the ability to work from home, in co-working spaces or even in coffee shops (as long as there is an internet connection) is a factor in improving work-life balance. Telecommuting, according to a reportTeleworking could even boost productivity and performance.

However, working remotely is not just about getting away from the office. In this context, workers have the opportunity to find the hybrid formula that suits them best by splitting their weeks. Most organizations have opted for the following hybrid formula: 3 days in the office, 2 days teleworking. The work is no longer only at the company's place of work, but at the employee's own organizational model.

The company then represents a multitude of work modes.

We mentioned in the introduction the context of the war for talent: companies offering the hybrid work model improve their employer brand and boost their recruitment strategy (more details in the next section).

A clear strategy

Smart working is not just about giving employees more freedom. When less importance is attached to a workplace, the corporate culture can become diluted. Therefore, organizations need to think about a clear course of action in order not to disengage their employees, who are exposed to isolation or psychosocial risks when they work from home.

Smart working is a basis for the new hybrid work organization. Nevertheless, it must be rigorously led by a company management that is aware of the possible risks that may accompany this change.

IS Ecosystem

When a company is agile and its employees are spread across different locations (offices, remote, foreign countries, etc.), the issue of employee engagement is more relevant than ever.

Managers must also be vigilant against the temptations of micro-management in hybrid mode.

So, to prevent this type of behavior, HR experts are encouraging companies to build their HR policy and change management around data. Organizations need an IT ecosystem adapted to this new approach, which will enable them to communicate this vision, share data and, above all, encourage employees to perform well. 

As organizations become more flexible, the need to invest in technologies that facilitate the maintenance of corporate culture and identity beyond the main office increases.

Very popular and efficient tools such as Slack or Teams make it possible to maintain this link between collaborators, notably via chat. Although they facilitate internal communication and project follow-up, these messaging and videoconferencing tools have not been developed to meet all the challenges of hybrid work. Thus, they do not address all the issues brought about by the organizational changes linked to the generalization of remote work.

The importance of hybrid work management solutions

The covid epidemic has profoundly transformed office life. By bringing new challenges to managers and HR actors, the pandemic has highlighted issues that are central today, such as how to find one's way back to the office or how to recreate a collective in the workplace. It is in this context that various hybrid work management solutions have emerged.  

To meet the challenges of smart working, presence management solutions seem to be essential for organizations today. 

These tools allow companies to easily track their employees spread around the world, regardless of the telework policy adopted (flex office, full remote, one day per week, etc.). 

Designed to structure smart working, these tools allow each employee to declare where he or she wants to work in order to meet up with colleagues in the office during collective moments (team building, team meetings, seminars, events, etc.). On the manager's side, these tools generate presence data that is crucial for steering a smart working strategy and help management to better lead these organizational changes.

What are the differences?

Smart working is different from other forms of work organization in many ways! 

To summarize, smart working:

  • Does not depend on a physical work space or a particular agenda (rather, the focus is on a task or a goal to be achieved).
  • Relies mainly on technology and innovative tools.
  • Requires managerial maturity to set priorities and keep teams motivated (especially by achieving measurable objectives).
  • Assumes that employees use flexible spaces as part of their work.

We will see in the next section the benefits of this strategy.

The benefits of smart working

Smart work has many benefits for innovative companies. Here are some examples.

Increase in productivity

Smart working via telecommuting and a reorganization of the company's workspace will allow employees to focus on their tasks: they organize their week to be more productive:

  • Fewer interruptions of their work in remote.
  • No more face-to-face group sessions.

Employer branding and recruitment

Smart working will allow the company to improve its employer branding policy by highlighting the benefits (flexible working hours for work/life balance for example) and benefit from a much larger pool of candidates by not necessarily focusing on the company's location to find talent.

Employee engagement

When we talk about smart working, we are talking aboutemployee experience. Employees who work in hybrid and flexible organizations are naturally more satisfied, which increases their commitment to the company. All the elements mentioned in this article (flexible working hours, freedom of means, available tools) are an integral part of the employee experience.

Lower turnover

As previously mentioned, smart working allows to satisfy employees who are looking for flexibility and trust. These values are indeed the keystone of smart working. It also helps to boost employee commitment, making them more likely to stay with the organization over the long term.

Physical and mental health

Following the viral risk issues widely explored during the covid pandemic, the hybrid work mode (telecommuting / face-to-face) appears to be an efficient way to fight against virus transmissions and consequently to reduce the number of sick days in teams: no need to come and contaminate colleagues for benign diseases.

On the other hand, the question of detecting psychosocial risks (risks of isolation and burn-out linked to telework) is essential in this type of organization!
But solutions to be promoted There are many ways to better support your employees in your organization.

Some HRDs even train in mental health first aid!

5 steps to revolutionize the way we work

Research has shown that employees are more productive when they can work the way they want (including the NOC report cited earlier in the article). 

The main principles of the Smart Working philosophy concern five areas of working life: leadership/management, the workplace, technology via the IT ecosystem, corporate culture and real estate policy. In each of these categories, initiatives can be launched to improve hybrid work and employee productivity.

Leadership and management

Undertake team management with a results-oriented culture, including:

  • A transparent strategy for the entire company.
  • Quantified objectives for each team.
  • Clear deadlines in the minds of employees.

To achieve this, work teams must be more flexible, available to their colleagues and develop their coordination skills.

Traditional management skills are therefore almost obsolete in this type of environment. Not everything has to change overnight, but flexibility is now the norm.

Workplace

Rethink the workplace policy, including transparent management of office and meeting room reservations.

Office spaces are dedicated to specific activities and no longer assigned to individuals: meeting rooms, break rooms, quiet zones, group work areas, etc.

As we have stated in other articles, on the one hand we have most workers spending time in transportation to and from work and on the other hand we have companies with low office occupancy rates.

The smart working by its flexibility will satisfy the needs of the employee and those of the company by optimizing the office space while responding to the wish of flexibility of employees. 

IT Solutions

In the context of smart working, as seen in the previous paragraph, technology has a role to play, if not THE role to play in the success of this strategy.

Share information and work together, regardless of location. This is how IT solutions enable the implementation of smart working in companies.

Let's take the example of SaaS solutions for managing hybrid work (face-to-face / telecommuting / flex office). These solutions make the management of workplaces, services (meeting rooms, parking, meals) and events (team days, team lunches, seminars) simple and transparent!

Thanks to solutions on :

  • Saves time because team members can organize themselves from where they want to work.
  • Promotes collaboration because employees are informed of each other's locations
  • Optimizes work spaces because presence data allows for better allocation of space and facilities.
  • Generates statistics that are essential for profitable real estate asset management.

Corporate culture

With smart working, corporate culture is undergoing a complete metamorphosis: company managers and HR directors are offering their employees a better balance between their professional and personal lives. 

To work, smart working, on the company side, will require adopting a resolutely "tech" culture by doing a lot of continuous monitoring of the technologies that can improve the company's workplace (whether digital or not).

On the employee side, there are four key competencies, which must be disseminated through the teams and the management:

  • Trust and transparency
  • Coordination
  • Efficiency 
  • Teamwork

Real estate

The last element, focused on the company's costs, smart working impacts the real estate budget of companies.

Do you need so many offices?

In this context of rationalization of real estate costs, organizations adopt a policy of flex-office or hot desking.

It seems to us that productivity is not proportional to the size of the office but rather to the experience offered to the employee in the course of his activity.

The principle here is to rationalize and optimize the resources made available to employees according to their real needs. In this sense, the company offers tools that facilitate remote work and communication between teams.

Charles Helliet

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