Corporate Culture & Productivity

Future-Proof: Setting your Mobile Workplace up for Success

Moira vandenAkker
May 26th, 2017

Emily Klein, Flexwork Global

Emily Klein is an expert at building highly functional mobile workplaces. She provides us with insight on current flexible working trends and what mistakes to watch out for. Emily Klein, founder and principal of Flexwork Global helps companies build mobile workforces through strong flexible work strategies and formalized remote work programs that ensure work is done efficiently, effectively, safely and securely. An accomplished strategy and organization development expert, Emily is an advocate for mobile-centric work cultures. She’s also a writer and has published articles about distributed teams, enterprise collaboration tools, evolving organization cultures, managing change and advancing women leaders

We started off by asking Emily to tell us a little more about herself and what led her to specialize in the mobile workplace.

Emily: I have a background in corporate strategy & organization development and have worked with companies across many industries guiding them through complex strategic change and business transformation. I’m also a writer, and started blogging about my experiences as I led distributed teams and used collaborative technologies to manage projects and large programs. I wanted to chronicle successes and challenges I experienced in a dynamic changing workplace when the Workshift book came to fruition. It was a collaboration with three co-authors, we spent two years on research and writing, and from there I began working with companies on helping them make flexibility and mobility a strategic business imperative. 

In 2013, Emily co-authored Workshift: Future-Proof Your Organization for the 21st Century, which delves deeper into how to successfully implement mobile workforces. We asked her to talk about the inspiration behind the book and the people who might benefit from reading it.

Emily: We wrote this book because we felt there were missing conversations happening in the workplace about what it meant to be truly a mobile-centric organization.

A couple of years back, significant numbers of employees evolved the way they wanted to work, but we noticed companies and leaders were scrambling to figure out ways to leverage the innovations their employees were using fluently: collaborative technologies, productivity apps or being able to work in multiple locations on various devices. At the time, there wasn’t a strategic integrated approach to designing a thriving mobile workplace culture in ways that involved real estate, IT and HR leaders working as a cross-organizational team to respond to changes in how employees wanted to work.

We wrote Workshift as an instructive guide and roadmap for helping companies move through change successfully, particularly in ways that would help them break out of siloed conversations that happen across lines of business. We created a mobile workforce maturity model that pinpoints what part or all of a corporate culture that needs to evolve to meet work styles of employees today. This roadmap visualizes lead roles and activities that Real Estate, IT and HR leaders play in helping make that transformation happen.

We asked Emily to tell us more about Flexwork and what products and services they have the most demand for.

Emily: Flexwork partners with companies to implement strategic workforce and workplace management initiatives to help organizations attract and retain top talent, become an employer of choice and achieve cost savings with a mobile work culture.  Companies are interested in gaining a better understanding of their workforce needs through assessments to make more informed decisions about designing programs for the future. They’re also are interested in knowing the right kinds of metrics & dashboards to use to determine the ROI of a flexible and mobile workforce.  And leader and manager training addresses the growing need for strengthening competencies in remote and blended teams. These products and services are of most interest, along with the need for updating and integrating policies.

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Emily told us the biggest mistake she sees managers make when attempting to get into the mobile workplace.

Emily: Underestimating the power of corporate culture and its strong undercurrents. Corporate culture can inhibit a new initiative if not understood correctly.  Managers need top leadership support along with a multi-modal communications strategy when transforming a corporate culture. The need to address conscious and unconscious bias is central to helping evolve on many levels. For example, the sum-total of all our experiences is what any given employee brings to the workplace.  If leaders attribute their success to long hours spent primarily in the office, they may have a harder time accepting a different paradigm where success is achieved anywhere, on any device, in any location.

Are there any remedies to help quell these challenges?

Emily: We find that delivering leader and manager training can help address potential biases. To begin unearthing and discussing biases means tackling the issue of presenteeism and evolving management styles towards results-oriented outcomes. Results-oriented work environments allow employees the autonomy to work where they’re most productive on any given day or week, in the office or not, and requires a shift for managers and leaders to focus on productivity and outcomes, not co-location.

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To wrap things up, we took it “back to the future” so to speak and asked Emily what the biggest workforce change or challenge in the next five to ten years will be.

Emily: Technology will continue to enable us to work anywhere and companies will still be focused on securing business assets — cybersecurity will remain a top priority.  Employees will continue to build competencies to work with growing distributed and diverse teams across geographic boundaries.  Gen Y & Z will continue to seek flexible and mobile workplaces, ones that provide opportunities to grow and advance their technology-centric and collaborative skills as ongoing learning and development will be essential. These generations will be pursuing side-gigs along with their full-time jobs more than any previous generations and companies should remain focused on investments needed to create a purpose-driven workplace that will attract and retain top talent.

To learn more about Emily Klein, read this article Staying Flexible, featured in Oracle’s Profit Magazine, or follow her on Twitter at @flexworkglobal.

Is your workplace mobilized? What are the biggest challenges that your workplace faces with mobile implementation? Share in the comments below.

Photos: Sean Pollock, Stephan Di Donato, Porapak Apichodilok, Shutterstock