Are we truly working digitally?

The move to digital has been going on for some time.  Products and services are more freely available online and in digital formats than ever before but have our methods of working adapted and developed too?  There are certainly the tools available to enable a more digital and effective way of working but as we now know none were really utilised in anger until fairly recently as the pandemic forced our hand.

In his first article for BIR Lee Bryant, Principal of POST*SHIFT and Shift*Base, explores the world of digital working and how we have struggled to truly take onboard its benefits for a more effective way of working when it comes to the ‘office’ environment.  Even during lockdown when we have been forced to work remotely most people have taken the processes and practices from the office and continued them as best they can online.  Enter in the back-to-back Zoom meetings, hours spent online more than ever and still talk of feelings of isolation and disconnectedness.

The truth of the matter is that it is not just a matter of using tools that have been available to us for a long time but a need for a shift in perspective and with that a change in leadership perspective to move us into a truly digital world.

In his article Lateral layers and loops: Why managers need to curate the fabric of the digital firm in a post-lockdown world Lee notes that manufacturing and engineering production lines moved processes to more efficient digital ways of working some time ago but that the office environment has not followed suit.

In reflecting on this I realised that though working remotely since 2014 it is only in the last 6-12 months, I could consider that I have really been working any differently to what I did when I was office based.  It took the pandemic, a lot of asynchronous working and working with a leadership team who were committed to developing the most effective and efficient ways to work, to enable me to understand and accept that meetings are not always the best way to get something done. (Not an easy thing to do when you have been used to working with consultancy teams who are used to jumping into a meeting room for an impromptu meeting/brainstorming discussion).  There is a sense of freedom and satisfaction of getting things done, utilising these tools as they were meant to be used and actually ending up with free time at the end of a day when you can close out and ‘go home’ that comes with this shift in perspective and way of working.

The road ahead will not be straight forward but the point to note is that we have jumped forward in realising what is possible and getting more to grips with digital working.  We now need to work on that next leap to truly work in a digital world and get the best from it.

Check out Lee’s article a compelling and thought provoking read – will you have a light bulb moment?

Lee Bryant is passionate about using social technology to put humans front and centre of the way we do things in the Twenty-First Century, and believes social networks, not bureaucracies, are the organising principle of the current era. He co-founded Headshift in 2002 to investigate new uses for social technology inside companies and organisations, which became a leading international social business consultancy and was acquired by a US firm in 2009. In 2013, he co-founded a new company, POST*SHIFT, dedicated to exploring the intersection between new social technologies and new thinking on organisational structure and culture.

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