Simple is a very powerful concept. Oftentimes simplicity is the true measure of real sophistication. I think of for example the first time I used an iPad; I (like many millions) was immediately attracted to that ‘instantly on’ moment. That sense of delight when you first peeled back the cover, and that wonderful easy navigation whereby with simple swipes of the finger a whole virtual world would unfold, even from the comfort of the sofa.
I can draw a similar parallel with the latest Dyson. You lift it from its holder on the wall and instantly and in a flash you can hoover up around you- no lugging the hoover out of a cupboard, no cables, no fuss, no bending down to plug in… it's simple, it's easy, it's light, it's minimalistic, it's powerful and it takes the effort out of vacuuming. It makes you want to use it.
And now in the workplace, I finally have a similar experience. I have over the past year completely transformed the way I work thanks to digital technology. And I love it. It has been empowering, it has made my work life more organised, more productive, more collaborative, and more engaging. But I must be honest, I only made a full commitment to a digital way of working once it became simple enough for me to do so. Otherwise, I would have stuck to my old ways of doing things (which at the time I was perfectly happy with, and they were ‘my ways’).
And what do I mean when I refer to simplicity in context of the digital workplace? The iPad and the Dyson feelings are important for me- they delight me and make me want to use them. So I guess by that I mean ‘consumer tech’. So for me, when it came to ‘work tech’ my bucket list included must haves like being able to instantly and easily access my work and everything related to making my work happen from one easy to navigate place.
So I wanted my projects, my tasks (and my shared tasks), my teammates, all workflows and processes (including those of the back-office- as like many people, I need to make the occasional purchase, I need to make travel bookings and manage my trips, I need to process my expenses), communication tools, reporting - so literally ‘everything’- readily accessible, updated and in sync for me from the one virtual place.
I wanted to be able to access this virtual workplace from my PC, my laptop, my smartphone, my iPad… I wanted everything to be simple, easy to use, intuitive, powerful, and beautiful. That’s what I wanted before I was willing to say goodbye to my old ways, to ditch the Montblanc, the Moleskin, the ‘postits’, and to never ever again jot anything down on the back of an envelope.
I also knew what I didn’t want. I didn’t want to have to make anything more complicated, weightier, and more ‘drilled down’ than it needed to be. And I didn’t want to have to manage and use too many different tools in order to go digital. Sometimes when your bucket list is so extensive, and the market is offering you bits and pieces of what you want in too many separate buckets, the best thing you can do is go out and start building.
And that’s what we did at my engineering company. Inspired by the power of consumer tech to transform our daily lives, and to do it with increasingly simplicity and elegance, we built an online platform to simplify, ‘leanify’ and connect all the components that make up the workplace- from people, to time, to work (a.k.a. projects and tasks), to back office, to mobility, to communication, to reporting- we stayed true to the principles of ‘simple’, ‘smart’ and ‘social’. In doing so we are the new enabler for an emerging approach to work: smartworking.
Smartworking is the new ‘quite revolution’ that is heating up enterprises. It is ‘a business-focused approach to flexible working that delivers more efficiency and effectiveness in work organisation, service delivery and organisational agility, as well as benefits for workers and the environment’. Indeed, the UK government believes that smartworking is the most modern, evidence-based form of flexible working and that it is the best way to work for business - and for the individual.
So much so that the UK’s British Standards Institution (BSI)- recognized as the UK National Standards Body (NSB) by the UK Government -, working with the Cabinet Office, has recently launched a new code of practice on Smart Working- BSI Publicly Available Specification (PAS3000) to help companies to implement smartworking practices. Research by the UK’s Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), reports that ‘smartworking’ was named as one of the top tactics to improve productivity by 56% of private organisations in the UK, including 60% of organisations in the public sector.
This is further endorsed by research carried out by RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) and Vodafone UK, which reveals that the UK could realise cost reductions and productivity gains of up to £8.1bn per annum by optimising its approach to flexible working.
At Sapenta we have not invented smartworking, but what we have done is created a digital platform that is holistic enough in its functionality and simple enough in its deployment and use to make the transition to smartworking very simple. Simple, quick and easy for companies.
I would now classify myself as a ‘smartworker’ and there is no doubt in my mind that I work better for it. My company is a ‘smartworking’ company and we are experiencing the business benefits: increased motivation; greater engagement; and greater productivity.
Sometimes it’s the simplest concepts that pack the most powerful punch.
CEO and Co-founder at SAPENTA