How modern working can deliver a brave new world - Mark Casci

Jacqui Timmons and Alex Duckett in the new working environment at Pinset Masons. '10th April 2019.'Picture Jonathan Gawthorpe
Jacqui Timmons and Alex Duckett in the new working environment at Pinset Masons. '10th April 2019.'Picture Jonathan Gawthorpe
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The phrase ‘new ways of working’ are usually guaranteed to send shivers down the spine of most people in business.

They often serve as public relations spin for cost-cutting and sadly have developed a status as a proxy phrase unwelcome disruption to the workplace.

Avenue HQ, East Parade, Leeds.'Matt Crumpton.'29 April 2019.'Picture Bruce Rollinson

Avenue HQ, East Parade, Leeds.'Matt Crumpton.'29 April 2019.'Picture Bruce Rollinson

However the unquestionable reality is that failing to embrace new ways of working is quite simply not an option in modern business.

The frenetic change in working practices is engulfing all sectors.

Most of the attention to the change focuses on automation and the impact this will have on employment. Earlier this month I wrote in these columns about how the roles of many thousands upon thousands of workers were set to find themselves potentially obsolete owing to the rising tide of technology which will be able to perform their roles faster and more efficiently.

What is however less discussed is that actual workplace environment itself.

Consider the office, laboratory or factory you are currently based in and compare it with how it appeared say 15 years ago.

I would wager there would be a great deal more paper, far less computer hardware and almost certainly a far greater per centage of staff actually in the workplace than exists today.

The fact is that technology is changing to help us work in a more effective way, often to the betterment of staff in terms of both personal life and their workplace productivity.

The ability to make use of mobile technology is translating into a scenario wherein the office does not need to become the only venue for work.

Those wishing to take time out in the day for personnel matters can pick up work later in the day remotely.

Were our creaking northern transport infrastructure up the task, the railway network could add a great deal more productivity benefits outside of trying to function off of a poor web connection on a handheld device.

I wrote recently about the Gilbanks development at One Park Square and the changes that have been made to that building.

Home to corporate giants such as Pinsent Masons and Barclays, it is also home to a number of smaller-scale organisations, all operating within the same environment.

Those based in the building were quick to extol the virtues of their new set up.

Pinsent Masons typified what I have just been talking about rather effectively when it revealed it had a grown its Leeds headcount in recent years but had fewer people actually based in the office owing to new found passions for agile working.

Gilbanks has been quick to recognise that the old model of signing companies, particularly those who are closer to the genesis of their story, are increasingly reluctant to sign up to leases of five to 10 years.

The pace at which firms can expand and contract does not suit this old fashioned model, leading to growing clamour for more flexible lease arrangements.

However there will be many of us for whom this proves daunting.

If your approach to working has been conditioned by years of being situated in an office on your own then such alterations may prove not to your liking.

However when you weigh up the benefits they really do make a compelling case, and not just to a firm’s bottom line.

In addition to improved productivity, networking opportunities and impacts on cost bases, there are the impacts on the individual worker which only show up on the balance sheet in an indirect way.

Modern working practices bring advantages that stretch into the realm of personal health and wellbeing.

If your staff can utilise tech to fit their job around the demands of modern life, do so in a manner which enhances their physical and mental health and makes them feel energised to come to work each day, you already have a competitive advantage over you opponents.

Suddenly ‘new ways of working start to resemble a ‘brave new world of working’, and who would not want to be a part of that?