10 years ago I would never have believed that today's management best practices would include encouraging employees to chit chat, work from home, and self-organize.
But as we head into 2016, these are exactly some of the trends shaping the way we work. Here are three big ones to watch.
Remote work is the new way to build a team
From my experience, remote workers provide a ton of flexibility when building your team. A remote workforce provides access to a much broader talent pool, especially when you're looking for a specific skillset. If your HQ is in an expensive real estate market like New York City or San Francisco, working with remote employees also offers an alternative to sky high office leases.
Many managers are concerned that remote workers are more likely to laze around without supervision, but I've found through our remote team, it's typically the opposite. Because people working away from HQ do not have the luxury of their co-workers actually seeing them at the office, they tend to make a greater effort to demonstrate that they are working and get just as much done, if not more sometimes, than everyone at the office.
A big leap for making this transition possible is the evolution of team communication platforms like Google Hangouts and Slack. Not only are they allowing remote workers to stay connected as if they were in the same physical space, but they also provide the transparency that allows managers to see what employees are actually doing.
New work tools increase transparency
Transparency is a common theme with modern teams as they move away from the more siloed email and Office suite to a broader set of cloud-based tools that allow them to plan, create, share, and work together. As a result, traditional management systems have changed.
In the past, managers have typically determined how employees spend their time. These days, it's more common for managers to empower employees to self-organize.
An open organization also leaves room for alignment on everything from big picture goals to who's responsible for specific projects. When employees have visibility from top to bottom, they feel valued and understand their role on their team and within the company's broader vision.
At the core of this shift is trust, and the way to build this trust is making it easier for people to work collaboratively, make decisions, and show progress. In this world, the role of the manager is to coach, remove roadblocks and advocate for the team.
The move to mobile has employees driving tech choices
Not long ago, the office was the only place where work could happen, and you had to go to this physical space in order to do your job. These days you can take work on the go, whether it's a laptop, tablet, or smartphone.
BYOD, or Bring Your Own Device isn't a new term. But what is new is the comfort level with employees making decisions about the tech they bring to work. Instead of IT imposing its vision on employees, employees are finding their own tools. This works in part because people gravitate towards tools that not only increase their productivity, but are easy to use, and even kind of fun.
Employees are more likely to do better work when they have the freedom to pick the tools that work best for them, since they can work in a way that best suits their needs and habits. In 2016, this is an important trend to watch because companies can empower employees to contribute to the IT decision for the whole team.
Empowerment for employees is at the heart of some of the biggest changes happening in the workplace today. By trusting employees to set their own priorities around team goals, allowing them to help pick their favorite tools, and manage where they choose to work, employers are building happier and more productive companies.