'Smart working' still not reality says report

New research from the Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) lifts the lid on the future of the workplace

The research forms part of a guide on how best employers can manage the transition to a smart workplace. Drawing on case study evidence, the report 'Smart Working: How Smart is UK plc'? concludes that smart working represents a new approach to workplace organisation that can have a real impact on an organisation’s effectiveness.

The key is changing management mindsets from “command and control” to embrace a greater degree of freedom, flexibility and collaboration. Eighty-seven per cent of respondents see smart working as a modern phenomenon and believe it has more relevance for organisations today than in the past, while almost all (97 per cent) believe the concept will become more relevant in future. 

Despite strong support for the philosophy of smart working, the research finds that it is still in its infancy as regards employer practice – the working lives of most employees are still a long way from being “smart”. It also finds that job design processes have not kept up with the aspiration to redesign organisations, and a majority of respondents are unconvinced that employers are deliberately designing roles that embrace smart working concepts. 

The report finds that organisations are at different points on the smart working spectrum and comments that, while organisations have an ambition to build autonomy and innovation formally into job roles, this is still an aspiration rather than a reality. Mike Emmott, employee relations adviser, said: “Everybody knows that work can be managed better. Jobs can be designed in a way that maximises individual motivation and organisational effectiveness.

“Organisations are beginning to provide their people with a greater level of autonomy, choice and freedom than we have seen before. Offering employees increased autonomy in job roles is one of the smart working interventions most frequently reported by respondents to our survey.” 

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