From a technological point of view, your business has probably changed beyond all recognition in the last 20 years. The internet, smartphones, cloud computing, cashless payments, email – the advancements we’ve made have been astonishing.
Which makes it all the more remarkable that in terms of the way we define ‘work,’ many businesses are still operating by the rules of the 1950s. We still work to a five day week which was apparently first championed by Henry Ford when he was making cars in the 1920s.
The idea of an eight-hour shift doesn’t come from Dolly Parton singing about the nine to five, but from over 100 years before that – the 1830’s to be precise when Irish coal heavers went on strike to protest about their ridiculously long working days.
Office workers have been wearing suits since offices were invented, which is over a century ago too. What we’re saying is that essentially, most businesses are operating on a set of standards, some of which were established before Abraham Lincoln was elected.
If your business is one of those, then here are four ways to bring it into the 21st century.
- Get rid of your dress code
Work dress codes have slowly evolved over time, gradually becoming more casual as businesses have realized that, actually, we don’t need to dress everyone up the nines if they are just going to be sat around in an office all day feeling uncomfortable as a result.
At the start of the 20th century, an employee turning up to the office without a bowler hat or bustles would have sent a shockwave through the building. Even the removal of ties from the daily uniform is something of a modern-day phenomenon and would have been unthinkable in the mid-1980s.
To be a true 21st-century business, you should get rid of your dress code altogether. Offer the most simplistic of guidelines, advising your employees to dress professionally and in the image of the company. That should stop anyone turning up in shorts and flip flops while at the same time relaxing the outdated idea of telling people what they should and shouldn’t wear.
- Let people choose the hours they work
As we’ve already noted, the eight hour day covering five days a week is a concept that is over 100 years old. It’s really not necessary in the 21st century, and your business should reflect that by letting your employees pick the hours that they want to work.
About 33 percent of American companies offered flexible working in 2017 according to a survey from Gallup, and that figure will no doubt increase over the coming years as more and more businesses begin to see the benefits to both themselves and their employees.
For businesses, flexible working means that you can get your employees in the office when they are at their most productive. An early riser might do their best work between 7am and midday, so by offering them the opportunity to start earlier than the traditional 9-5, you are going to be extracting improved productivity from them.
On the flip side, there will be those who find they work better as the day goes on. By giving those employees the chance to work later hours, say between 11am and 7pm, you’ll be getting more from them as well.
From an employee’s point of view, choosing when they work based around their home life can make them happier, and a happier workforce is a more successful one. Knowing they can finish at 2pm, pick the kids up from school and then spend an afternoon with their family will boost mood and with it, productivity.
- Introduce remote working
In 50 years, offices might not exist. Some studies predict that the office could be extinct as soon as 2037. Given that 70 percent of people around the globe already work remotely at least once a week, that will hardly come as a surprise. After all, why do we need to waste time and money commuting to work when increased connectivity and cloud computing means so many of us can just work from home?
That’s why a true 21st-century business won’t set constraints on where its employees work from. They’ll invest in the technology needed to give their workers the tools they need to work from anywhere in the world. There’ll be no more shutting the office during snow storms or when employees are unable to get in due to transport issues either, not when they can simply fire up a laptop in their home and get to work.
The technology isn’t as expensive as you might think. Cloud computing systems are coming down in cost all the time as the technology becomes cheaper to install and run. If you still think it might be out of your budget, then a company such as Bonsai Finance might be able to help you afford what’s needed to offer remote working to your employees. The increased productivity it will bring can be well worth it in the long run.
- Focus on careers, not employment
It’s one of the most frequently asked questions by candidates towards employers during the interview stage – what are my chances of progression through the company? Gone are the days when employees just wanted a job; they now want a career. A business that is operating in the 21st century will recognize that.
You also have to recognize that that career may not be with you. If you do your job well and equip your employees with the talents and skills to thrive, then they should become as qualified and able as you are. At which point, they’ll have to move on – unless you are willing to stand aside for them.
Helping to build careers and create opportunities for people to move onto bigger and better things is a very up to date way of thinking. Don’t stand in your employees’ way but rather help them pursue their dreams. By doing so, you’ll gain a reputation as a forward-thinking company whose first responsibility is to their employees – and you won’t find a more modern approach to business than that.