How to create a flexible organisation

by Heat Recruitment

By Ross Bennett

The year is 1958. Thriving companies look to a prosperous future as the economy heralds business longevity: an average of 61 years, to be precise.

Fast forward to 2012: only 24 companies of those listed in the FTSE 100 of 1984 have survived. In the US, figures from the Yale School of Management echo the same story, with the average lifespan of an S&P 500 company falling from 67 years in the 1920s, to just 15 years today.

And it’s not just the big dogs, either – today, around 50% of SMEs fail to celebrate their 5th birthday. Eager to cling to the competitive edge, major corporations seek ways to stand out, but their efforts are stifled by bureaucracy; their success restricted by complex webs of reporting lines that prevent creativity, and smother talent.

If they are to overcome this issue and unlock the potential within, businesses cannot be bound to outdated organisational structures that prevent innovation. In 2018, flexibility is the only way forward. The question is, how can this be achieved?

Collaboration is key
Competing in today’s fast-paced business environment poses a challenge for those reliant on a rigid, hierarchical organisation chart. Where their peers can tap into the talent of the wider organisation, these companies are tied down to the traditional, top-down food chain system in which ideas are suffocated by a tedious sign-off process.

Instead, leaders must recognise the value of collaboration; they must explore the potential of adopting a collective mindset in which the business objectives are front of mind for all members of staff – regardless of their remit.

By combining a sense of common purpose to a supportive structure, workers are encouraged to contribute their unique talents to group projects in an effort to achieve the over-arching goal.

In fact, a growing number of world-leading organisations such as NASA, IBM and Citibank are already reaping the rewards of collaborative communities in the form of higher margins on knowledge intensive work.

Quality, not quantity
Traditionally, the most hard-working and committed employees are those who arrive early and leave late. In a flexible organisation, however, leaders are more concerned with the output than the time dedicated to a particular task.

After all, the number of hours spent at work are by no means a reflection of good performance. For instance, one employee might be able to achieve the same results as another in half the time. To promote flexibility, leaders must carefully consider how performance is measured: are employees rewarded for the time put in, or the results produced? If it’s the former, it’s time to think again.

Harnessing technology
Over the course of a decade, digital technology has evolved to play a crucial role in enhancing business agility and inspiring collaboration.

By taking advantage of technology such as cloud computing, audio and video-conferencing, instant messenger and mobile internet, organisations have achieved a level of flexibility previously unimaginable. As well as allowing for remote working, these technologies have further proved pivotal in enhancing a sense of community between colleagues. But the benefits don’t stop there: when employees aren’t tied down to a desk or an office, they can act quickly and seize the moment should new business opportunities arise or customer service issues occur. The outcome? Happier clients, better outcomes and increased productivity.

At Heat Recruitment, we work with a multitude of organisations in a range of sectors. If you’re looking for your next career step, or are searching for that perfect candidate, get in touch with us today!

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