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Thursday, June 9, 2016

Preparing for the Future of Work: 5 Approaches

By Rafael Solis

We are currently in the midst of a cultural shift in the United States: The modern worker is looking for more independence and less structure. Companies like Uber and UpWork have taken advantage of the trend toward a gig economy by creating flexible work environments for employees that cultivate productivity. According to a poll conducted by the Aspen Institute’s Future of Work Initiative, 44 percent of U.S. adults have participated in this style of gig work, and that number is only going to grow from here.

This phenomenon has not been ignored by the rest of corporate America. Uber was recently named the fastest growing start-up of all time after it was valued at $60 billion dollars only five years after its inception. And a poll conducted by Penn Schoen Berland highlighted that 71 percent of Americans who are involved in the gig economy love working in their industry compared to the 2 percent who dislike it. It is abundantly clear to companies large and small that workers are beginning to expect more liberty in the workplace.

So as the time employees spend in an office shrinks, management still needs to find a way to effectively train staff in a manner that delivers exponential value. Keeping employees engaged in the workplace and opening up cross-company communication can make employees feel content where they are. Here are five approaches to help organizations create a work environment prepared for the future of work.

1. Train Employees on the Specifics.

It might seem obvious, but the more the gig worker understands where and/or how an organization derives its revenue, the more likely he or she is able to contribute. Make sure employees are trained on important details so that they can be more independent when making business decisions.

2. Live and Die by BYOD.

Learning systems should lean heavily toward mobile as most contract and gig economy workers are constantly on the go. Learning solutions need to be as intuitive as Gmail or downloading an app from the Apple App Store. With one or two clicks, employees should be off and learning. The bottom line: learning should be quick, to the point, and efficiently delivering exponential value.

3. Leverage Peer-to-Peer Learning.

The biggest known secret is sitting right under our noses. We all know that some of our greatest learning experiences come from knowledge-sharing with our peers. Organizations should seek ways to broker relationships across departments and implement processes or vehicles for knowledge-sharing. Learning and knowledge sharing are not once-a-year events—they should be integrated into the daily work experience.

4. Create Content Easily Viewed Through a Mobile Lens.

With the proliferation of smartphones and "always-on" connectivity, society has shifted its consumption of media away from laptops to smartphones. We need to keep this in mind as we think about how to develop employees, train them on products and services, and provide them content that can be easily consumed on this platform. Content for mobile needs to be easily digestible and broken down into short, 30-second learning bites that can be viewed while waiting for coffee or walking from one meeting to the next. Additionally, the text or graphics used for training needs to be designed with the dimensions of a small screen in mind. It defeats the purpose if employees need to zoom in and slowly make their way through one slide or page of material versus quickly swiping from one page to the next as they rapidly consume media via their smartphone.

5. Develop Better Tools for Remote Teams.

As the future of work calls for more of our employees to be dispersed, whether they’re working from home or in remote offices, we need to provide better tools to drive virtual collaboration and knowledge-sharing. These tools need to have conversation threading, the ability to share documents and articles, and should be accessible for future reference. Employee- or team-sourced knowledge bases are also good media to facilitate knowledge-sharing and collaboration. If one member of your organization has a question, there's a good chance others have the same question; knowledge bases are great way to address this need and help reduce redundancies.

Rafael Solis is the Co-Founder and COO at Braidio

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