As the modern workforce becomes younger, more digitally savvy and socially aware, companies are faced with a changing set of attitudes about workplace culture. In order to keep pace with these new expectations, organizations must continue to evolve their practices, doing away with the closed door management styles of the past, and embracing a more horizontal structure. But how do employers and their employees learn to operate without a boss?
For a horizontal organization to be successful, it has to empower its employees, giving them not only a voice, but also the ability to shape the future of the company. However, this is not just a way to make employees ‘feel’ better about their sense of agency within an organization. Rather it is a necessary restructuring which allows intelligent employees to explore their creativity, and ultimately enabling entire organizations to interalize innovation, act on new ideas and be more responsive in an ever-changing marketplace.
There are several examples of this model being implemented effectively, such as at Grey Communications in the UK, as featured in PSFK’s Future Of Work report. The ﬁrm has recently initiated a corporate cultural experiment called Open, where the conventional top-down structure has been ﬂattened to foster better communication between employees, departments, and clients. This led to the elimination of time-consuming sign-off procedures, making the overall workﬂow move more efﬁciently, while enabling employees to feel better connected with their work. The less hierarchical structure allows workers to take greater advantage of their potential within the company, and as a result staff and client satisfaction scores have skyrocketed.
Another radical example from the report comes courtesy of software developer Valve, which quite literally invites employees to be their own boss. Their recently released employee handbook shows the workings of a completely horizontal organization, and instructs a day one employee on how to navigate this company structure. Employees at Valve work on their own projects 100% of the time, completed through peer-to-peer, project-by-project teams that assemble and disassemble as work is completed. The overall direction of the company is decided entirely by the employees and what they decide to work on as a collective.
By allowing employees to take greater command of their work, the ﬂattening of organizations is helping to untap the potential of intelligent and creative employees. In the end it is mutually beneﬁcial, as workers feel greater ownership of their own work and and therefore better motivated to experiment. Looking forward, we will inevitably see this model adopted to a degree by more and more organizations, especially in industries that demand constant creative innovation.
Stay tuned for the next Future of Work sneak peak as we will be revealing highlights from the full report throughout the month. Catch all the trends, futuristic concepts and expert interviews that you’ve missed here or buy the entire report. Join the conversation and share your visions and ideas for the future of work with the #FoW on twitter.