Some things, like hair scrunchies and jazzercise, simply run their course and go by the wayside. The same should be true for things in the workplace, but sometimes it can take a little longer for people to realize those practices and trends have reached their end. As we head towards the future of work, more outdated practices will start to be replaced by newer, more innovative thinking and streamlined, employee-friendly processes. A lot of change is coming, but we can start by removing these five outdated work practices from our offices:
1. Hierarchy. In the old way of thinking, organizations were shaped like pyramids with all of the power and communication flowing from the top to the bottom. That meant that executives controlled everything about the company and the smaller workers at the bottom were simply powerless cogs in the machine. The system may have worked well in the olden days of agriculture and manufacturing, but it is completely outdated today. Hierarchy breeds bureaucracy and red tape and makes it difficult for anyone to have a voice. Instead, organizations are looking to flatten out and to give power to employees at all levels.
2. Working fixed hours. Forget the commute and being stuck at your desk from 9-5 every day. Technology has made it possible for employees to work essentially wherever and whenever they want, and many organizations are embracing that. Employees are much more productive when they can choose a work schedule and location that fits their lifestyle, whether that's working early mornings from home or evenings from a shared work space. The workplace is increasingly global, which means employers needs to be flexible to make sure they employees can work and connect with whoever they need to.
3. The office as simply a workplace. Before technological innovation, offices served one main purpose--a place where employees could show up to get their jobs done. It could simply be four walls and a desk, but employees had to show up there every day if they wanted to work. Now, employees have more options than just working in offices, so the offices themselves can serve more purposes. Many organizations are re-thinking office design and focusing on creating an office experience that engage employees and get them excited about their work and the company.
4. Managers controlling information. Executives used to create the company strategy and then send it down to the employees to execute without getting feedback from them. Today's organizations are more about gathering information and getting perspectives from a variety of employees before making a choice. Collective intelligence brings employees into the conversation and allows them to have more buy-in as they help decide the direction of the company. It gives employees more power and helps them feel more engaged in the work, which can lead to great bottom-line results.
5. Annual employee reviews. No one actually likes annual employee reviews, so it's about time they were on the way out. HR managers don't find the reviews effective, and they can often be incredibly stressful to employees. After all, can a single once-yearly meeting really dictate your workplace success and pay? Instead, forward-thinking organizations are moving to more frequent conversations that are less formal. These real-time check-ins allow employees and managers to touch base to discuss projects and get feedback in a way that is more accessible and useful to implementing change right away.
With these practices making their workplace exit, how we work could be entirely different in the next three to five years--and that's not a bad thing. Looking forward and removing outdated practices prepares employees and organizations for the future that is to come.