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Leaders are not maximising potential of flexible working

Cover of  by Dave Coplin

Today?s workplace ?isn?t fit for purpose? and leaders need to break free from it to find new ways of thinking and working.
This is the view of Dave Coplin, Chief Envisioning Officer at Microsoft UK, outlined in his new book Business Reimagined. And, he claims, while flexible working is certainly part of the solution, it is being misunderstood and misused by many business leaders.

Coplin argues that workforces are becoming disengaged due to factors including: an outdated ?Victorian? approach to rewarding work in terms of time; the obsession with process over outcome caused by open plan offices; the overuse of email as a solution when better tools exist; and a natural tendency to try and use new technology in the same way as the older technology it has replaced.

And, focusing in on flexible working, he says: ?All people hear is ?working from home.? While this is obviously a key component of what flexible working offers, this simplistic understanding actually misses the point and belittles the true potential of an authentically flexible approach.?

He suggests the following path to considering flexible working in a way better suited to business productivity?

Consider tasks and choose the most appropriate location from which to accomplish them. ?Work no longer is defined by a specific location, but instead is simply an activity,? he writes.
Remember it?s about being effective regardless of your location, indeed because of your location. Maybe it?s to bring you closer to customers, or to provide space for deep thinking. ?It is most definitely not an employee perk or HR arrangement made for individuals based on their personal preferences or situation,? he argues.
Industry and government should provide ?third spaces? that allow people to be productive without getting mired in the commuter rat race. ?There is a huge opportunity to make better use of our high streets, moribund pubs, libraries and other community sites,? says Coplin.
Let go of the idea that we need to congregate around central organisational hubs to work: ?The infrastructure that used to be solely available there is now dispersed and for the most part can be found in our pockets, laptop bags, office shops and local libraries,? he writes.
Still travel, but travel less. ?We will still visit the central hubs of business and commerce in our regions. But the point is we should visit them less,? he says. ?We should have a choice. We should reap the rewards when we use them, rather than using them by default.?

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