Tag Archives: Knowledge worker

The world in three colors: blue, green and orange

I just took PwC’s quiz on the #futureofwork. They say I’m a Green world person.  

The projections in this report build on the work started in 2007 by a team from PwC and the James Martin Institute for Science and Civilisation at the Said Business School in Oxford, who came together to develop a series of scenarios for the future of people management. The result was three ‘worlds of work’, which provide a lens through which to examine how organisations might operate in the future.

Which world do you belong to?



The future is now: remote workers in the knowledge times

Do you think the days when new hires will not come into the office for training is far away? I’ve done it two years ago and I’ve done it again these days. It’s true it was an internal hiring but all training has been delivered virtually: video conferencing and practice based assessments. Some eLearnings are also on their way… Because the rites of social media are so familiar to many employees, I can establish working relationships faster than ever with members of my remote teams.

As a recent McKinsey study shows, virtual approaches to work are attractive to a wide array of employees, including working mothers, older workers, and younger, Generation Y professionals who want flexible lifestyles from the start. Younger workers are often particularly suited to work remotely, having grown up socializing and collaborating online. “They don’t want to work 9 to 5,” says Bonny Simi, vice president of talent at JetBlue, “and it doesn’t matter to me if they work better from six at night until three in the morning or if they can do the work in six hours instead of eight.” (McKinsey Quarterly – “Preparing for a new era of knowledge work”).

Employers first began ramping up their use of remote-work arrangements in the 1990s. As technology evolved, companies such as IBM found they could eliminate permanent offices for their sales force and other customer-facing employees. Consulting companies also made a better use of “open-spaces” since partially their staff have to be on client site anyway.

Such moves yielded huge cost savings on real estate while increasing the time consultants could spend with customers. Now, thanks to broadband, cloud computing, and a burgeoning market for online collaboration tools, many more jobs that once required “face to face” interactions can be performed anywhere. These jobs range from insurance claims processors to law associates and corporate workers in functions such as finance or knowledge management.

In fact, by some estimates perhaps one-quarter of all US jobs could be performed remotely, and in McKinsey’s 2011 survey of 2,000 US businesses, one-quarter of them said they planned to use more remote workers in the future. Are you going to be one?

Knowledgeheimer’s treatment: unlocking value and productivity through social technologies

I remember how eight years ago I was explaining to one of my clients the benefits of having an online platform that could be easily updated by his sales force, used by both client facing and back office and act also as a sales platform for anyone accessing the internet. It was an innovative idea, custom made but the word “social” had nothing to do with it. Technologies have come a long way and we often hear the word “social” sticked to some other ones such as “knowledge sharing” or “business benefits”. Nowadays, by not reaching the full potential of the existing knowledge sharing system, companies begin to suffer the same effects that the Alzheimer disease has on human brain, as we’ll see shortly.

According to McKinsey’s “Social economy” report, the social technologies today look like this:

  • over 1.5 billion networking users globally;
  • 80% of online users interact with social networks regularly;
  • 70% of companies are using social technologies; 90% of them report business benefits from such technologies;
  • knowledge workers spend 28 hours per week writing, searching and collaborating inside the company.

However, their potential is somewhere here:

  • between USD 1 billion and USD 1.3 trillion could be unlocked by social technologies in four sectors;
  • twice potential value from better enterprise communication and collaboration;
  • 20-25% potential improvement in knowledge worker productivity.

About Knowledgeheimer

During the last few years, I understood that knowledge management comes in fact to maintain the organization’s brain, to keep it active, to develop it so the organization is able to work and innovate. I observed that organizations with dysfunctional knowledge management begin to suffer the same effects that the Alzheimer disease has on human brain: intellectual abilities are lost, even reach inability to think abstractly, the coordination is limited, and they have trouble performing daily activities. Since the evolution is similar to an organization’s brain, I named this disease Knowledgeheimerclick here for details on this concept.

How do we treat these symptoms?

McKinsey’s report shows that two-thirds of this potential value lies in improving collaboration and communication within and across enterprises. The average interaction worker spends an estimated 28% of the work week managing e-mail and nearly 20% looking for internal information or tracking down colleagues who can help with specific tasks. But when companies use social media internally, messages become content; a searchable record of knowledge can reduce, by as much as 35%, the time employees spend searching for company information. Additional value can be realized through faster, more efficient, more effective collaboration, both within and between enterprises.

The amount of value individual companies can capture from social technologies varies widely by industry, as do the sources of value. Companies that have a high proportion of interaction workers can realize tremendous productivity improvements through faster internal communication and smoother collaboration. Companies that depend very heavily on influencing consumers can derive considerable value by interacting with them in social media and by monitoring the conversations to gain a richer perspective on product requirements or brand image – for much less than what traditional research methods would cost.

To reap the full benefit of social technologies, organizations must transform their structures, processes, and cultures: they will need to become more open and non-hierarchical and to create a culture of trust. Ultimately, the power of social technologies hinges on the full and enthusiastic participation of employees who are not afraid to share their thoughts and trust that their contributions will be respected. Creating these conditions will be far more challenging than implementing the technologies themselves.

KM Democracy: would a Parliament’s structure improve company knowledge management?

Prix du Sénat du livre d'Histoire
Image by Sénat via Flickr

At the heart of Eureka Forbes’ approach is the EuroSenate, a 14-member body of elected representatives – one for each of Eureka Forbes’ 14 strategic business units, or geographic zones. The Senators and their Councillors have a clear mandate. They are to be the emissaries of the head office in the zones, and the conduit between knowledge workers and headquarters.

A three-member council, also elected from the strategic business units, assists the 14 representatives, called Senators. The 42 Councillors and the 14 Senators report to six Governors – regional heads of the company. There is also a President, Speaker and a Senate Administration Committee (for details see “How Eureka Forbes Uses Indian Parliamentary Model to Connect with its Staff,” Labonita Ghosh, The Economics Times, November 12, 2010).

What do you think?

  • How would such a structure improve knowledge management?
  • Would that work efficiently in your company? Why?
  • What other models would you suggest?