For this week’s reflection on how the nature of work is changing with the proliferation of the Web, I thought I would consult the only “expert” I could find: The Magic 8 Ball. According to Weinberger (2014), we cannot anticipate all of the changes that will be coming in the next year, let alone further into the future.
So, this is how my conversation with the Magic 8 Ball Oracle went:
Q: Will the Web impact the way we conduct work?
A: Ask again later.
Q: Do leaders need to be more flexible in their leadership style to accommodate both technology changes and employee motivations?
A: Signs point to yes.
Q: Can we accurately prepare for these changes ahead of time?
A: My sources say no.
While this is a light-hearted way of looking at the evolution of the workplace, I cannot really argue with these answers. Many researchers and insights professionals get paid a lot of money to predict upcoming workplace trends, but how should leaders use these trends? I would suggest that the reports from Gartner, Fortune and Glassdoor.com should be used directionally. Yes, the trends of more collaboration, spontaneous work, and increased automation are helpful to leaders, but these are not the Holy Grail of how to approach one’s own teams and environments.
I have a very diverse team in terms of experience and tenure with our employer. One of my challenges is to bring a connection and collaboration to a group of people who might have never talked to one another in the past. Instead of creating a hierarchy, I am wiring together a group of seemingly diverse individuals under a collective and shared umbrella. This is the exact definition of wirearchy. This system will allow for greater effectiveness and efficiency.
As the leader, I am charged with helping define the collective goals and demonstrating how each team member has a purpose in achieving these goals. This is not about connecting more effectively through digital tools, however, I am considering adding Slack to our inter-team communications. This is about truly understanding how to break down any barriers and build trust among the team members. I find this approach less reliant on technology and more reliant on human capital.
I have utilized some of the strategies outlined by Gartner to complement the changes in the nature of work. I have found that using work swarms, spontaneous work opportunities and changing the “routine” have helped to create the culture with my new team. But, reading an article did not impact my approach, I was utilizing these methods before being formally presented with these, so I question whether these trends are that revolutionary.
And, if all else fails, ask the Magic 8 Ball!