The development of information and communication technology (ICT), as well as the globalization processes associated with breaking borders in doing business, has led to finding new ways of organizing people’s work and cooperation. In this context, the concept of smarter working has been developed as managers’ and individuals’ response to recent changes in working processes and employers’ expectations regarding outcomes. Although today managers only start to implement the principles of smarter working in organizations, this approach can be discussed as effective to improve employees’ engagement, motivation, performance, and productivity while referring to this idea at both organizational and individual levels.
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The Definition of Smarter Working
Smarter working can be defined as a complex approach to managing individuals’ work while providing them with more flexibility, autonomy, and means for collaboration because of using the most innovative ICT. At the organizational level, smarter working should be regarded as a managerial strategy to organize the overall working process and communication between employees.
Thus, the key features of this approach are the provision of individuals with flexible schedules that suit them best depending on their productivity or specific needs, the absence of dependence on the workplace and office areas, and the active use of ICT to promote communication and collaboration. Consequently, the application of the principles of smarter working in an organization leads to arranging offices according to employees’ needs to provide them with opportunities for working alone or in a team as well as using flexible working hours and remote work.
At the individual level, smarter working is associated with organizing the work of an employee in a way that most suits his or her needs and capacities. While being provided with opportunities to choose flexible working hours and the place to work, a person decides what schedule to follow and whether to work in an office or from home to be more creative and productive. The result of this approach is the increase in employees’ autonomy, enthusiasm, productivity, and engagement.
Thus, smarter working can be applied by managers to improve the performance of their employees in the context of changing the corporate culture, and this approach is used in agile organizations that follow the people-centered culture and create dynamic teams of empowered employees to achieve the set goals. In this context, employees with different work styles can use their potential and successfully collaborate.
How Smarter Working Can Be Achieved
To achieve the realization of the principle of smarter working concerning the performance of employees, it is possible to follow some recommendations. Firstly, the overall managerial practice should be changed while shifting from evaluating the work by the presence at the workplace to evaluating the outcomes. The number of working hours and the work place is selected by an employee depending on goals and deadlines. Secondly, it is necessary to make schedules and calendars of all employees and channels for contacting them available and shared between team members.
Collaboration is an important component of smart working should be achieved despite the presence or absence of employees in one room. Thirdly, it is important to guarantee the availability and work of ICT to conduct virtual meetings and enhance online communication. Fourthly, it is necessary to organize the sharing of electronic documentation and employees’ access to all tools they need in the workplace and at home. Fifthly, in the workplace, employees should not be limited in using unassigned desks, gardens, or some quiet spaces to complete their working tasks depending on their needs.
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Additionally, there are two more guidelines for applying smarter working by individuals. Firstly, it is recommended to find out what specific conditions make a person more productive, concentrated and motivated, including preferences to work in quiet or noisy spaces, in an office or a park. Secondly, it is critical to determine the hours of the highest productivity for every person to set a schedule that will contribute to improving performance.
Smarter Working for Enhancing Organizational Performance and Productivity
If employees work at the most effective locations for them and choose appropriate flexible hours, they are more concentrated on work, stimulated, and satisfied. As a result, their performance increases, and distractions and mistakes become eliminated. The use of ICT contributes to making cooperation and communication simple and active, without causing the members of multinational teams, for example, to meet each other.
Thus, it is possible to save resources, decrease costs, and save employees’ energy for completing working tasks. The application of smarter working is associated with more flexibility, independence, and freedom for individuals who become more responsible for their activities and presenting outcomes of their work. This approach leads to increasing their motivation to work better and be more productive.
Smarter working has become actively applied in modern organizations, especially agile ones, to recognize employees’ needs, address their talents, and improve their productivity. The realization of this principle is associated with accepting the presence of various work styles that should be taken into account while managing employees. Furthermore, in the modern context, smarter working is based on the use of ICT to enable communication and enhance performance.