31 March 2021
Management 2.0: Flexible collaboration
As we prepare for the return to the office and take a step back, we offer a series of 5 articles throughout the month of August focusing on 5 upcoming human-centric projects as a result of company transformation. Each of these articles is based on our study “Transformations: 5 proposals to put humans back at the hearth of the game” published last June that you can download here.
The way we work has evolved to become more flexible over the last ten years, both in employee relationships and in practices. The increasing digitalization of the professional world is disrupting mentalities that are sometimes too well established by encouraging greater trust. However, in the long term, this will also lead to the emergence of new problems.
From an authoritative model towards a model more collaborative, …
Hierarchical relationships have always been more strained in France than in the rest of Europe. Our managers still have a lot of work to do to fully collaborate with their subordinates and to take part in their professional development. The effects of these strained relationships can be seen in the following figure: in 2019 in France, 42% of employees stated they did not feel recognized by their superiors. French managers are often too far away from their teams, in a position of control that limits cooperation and their ability to help their employees progress.
Fortunately, a positive trend is emerging with the development of agile methods that strengthen team collaboration. Continuous improvement and co-construction processes allow for discussions during which managers and employees can communicate on equal terms.
As a sign of improved relations, companies are giving their employees more and more flexibility. For example, the possibility to work from home started to become widespread even before the episode of pandemic we experienced. Working from home makes companies more attractive by providing a response to the long commute faced by their employees. Similarly, the rate of part-time employees working more than 80% increased by 15% between 2014 and 2019, while the proportion of part-time workers fell over the same period.
Finally, the current context marked by Covid-19 has forced the widespread adoption of working from home, and for the better: 76% of managers believe that this experience has strengthened the trust they place in their teams, and almost just as many consider that this greater trust is reciprocal. The lockdown had an unexpected impact on teams that were able to WFH: it limited the control that managers could exercise over their employees while imposing new modes of communication.
… a transformation that still needs to be accompanied
While we can only welcome the emergence of more collaborative and flexible ways of working, the development of WFH and the digitalization of exchanges and activities raises some essential questions.
With the growing importance of digital tools in the professional world, communication is increasingly taking place via email or instant messaging. Physical meetings are less frequent, even for employees working at the same site. Consequently, relationships lose their informal nature, with discussions over coffee or in the corridor. As the way we work evolves, is it essential we keep up with its changes to maintain the quality of the human bond.
The manager must therefore find a way to establish a culture of collaboration within the team. Working remotely requires an adapted workflow: the type of meetings and interactions necessary to move the project forward are not the same, and the message communicated by screen may lose its clarity. It is therefore crucial to train managers on these subjects.
Finally, since it is no longer necessary to be together to work as a team, the employee/employer relationship is also evolving. With the widespread use of WFH, employees’ attachment to their company is in danger of breaking down, and it is becoming essential for organizations to strengthen the collective relationship. This may involve setting up new rituals: weekly meetings, with one day of the week without WFH, or sometimes, with events promoting dialogue and innovation. But the solution can also be digital: HR Tech is full of gems designed to animate the employee community, such as the start-ups RandomCoffee or La Pause Baskets.
Read the following article: « Legitimizing the HR function for a better consideration of the human Factor »