How to design work
Last week I had a change to participate to a full day and very interesting seminar co-hosted by Pisku-project and NewWOWCrafting -project. The event was held at the Aalto University Design Factory that was described as a sandbox that is open for testing and learning goals.
Facilitators, quite skilled ones if I may add, were from Humap, which is a consulting company that creates new ways of doing strategic development. They offer small and courageus experiments that helps organizations grow into great results. Digital strategic development and redesigning the organization’s shared knowledge is at the core of Humap operation.
In the beginning the facilitators introduced us to digital co-creation space called Howspace. It was fast to work together with this platform and it quickly gave us visual information about our common responses.
I enjoyed the fact that we all were able to contribute fast and the questions were well thought. Easy to answer. In addition to the survey, there was also opportunity to discuss the topics on the go and the facilitators also added remarks and questions to the wall. It made sure that all the participants were actually able to co-create and contirubute to the common subject at hand.
Work crafting in Finnish companies
After the introduction and warm up the project managers and a reseacher opened up and explained the two projects goals and implementations. The aim of the NewWoW project is to offer information and insight on how people working in a mobile and multi-locational manner craft their working time, work habits and the various workspaces they use. This part of the NewWoW project will focus on people working at microenterprises and small and medium sized enterprises, as these groups are the most likely to individually make use of the benefits offered by mobile work in a manner that is healthy and safe. The goal of the project is to identify the practices of working time and workspace management crafted by employees involved in multi-locational work in order to balance their own resources with the demands of the job, thereby improving the well-being of the employees and the productivity of their work. In addition, the project aims to combine this information with co-creation methods in order to develop and try out modern methods for crafting work and to prepare coaching materials on the subject matter.
Project managers explained that there are three different perspectives for work crafting. Work tasks, which might be the most common one. How much one has work, how demanding work is, is there support, what actually is the work one does. I believe that the two latter ones are less explored topics: Work relations and work cognitions. These two try to reveal the social aspect of the work. Who one works with, how much they collaborate, who belongs to the work community, what is the meaning of work. Work crafting is developing the work through and by the workers themselves.
In the following moments the project managers from both projects guided us through the methods they are using and what the results have been so far. The work crafting methods are often in indivial methods, so it is good to ask how the organisation can support in the process. What kind of collaborative rules work places can develops and what kind of different time structures are needed for the work? In addition to operative time that measures the time to complete the main task, it is also important to realise the time for reflection and social interactions because these create collaborate learning and trust in the works places.
In the panel discussion following, there was a lot of good examples of small companies that have already been doing work crafting. It means designing the workload, workspaces and mutual work habits together.
Adapting to automation
After the lunch future reseacher and certified business coach Ilkka Halava guided us swiflty through the problems in the modern working world. According to Mr.Halava, the biggest challenges are in the understanding. We should end the structural wastage and start taking the pragmatic steps towards the solutions. He said that at the moment the change in the work is automating everything dull, dirty and dangerous to robotics so that in the future most essential work skills are in emphatetic interaction. The value is in the interaction and it is important to understand and foresight, This is a great place for design thinking.
The last activity for the day was to collaborate in groups and discuss about work time, work space and work habits. Great discussion and I truly enjoyed working with the people in my group.
I want to write forth about the top three learnings from this seminar. Firstly, the seminar reminded me that there a alot of talented and enthusiastic people who are doing research and development regarding ocuupational health. I believe that designing work is important because work changes just like people and consumers behavior. As the services provided are more user oriented, I stronly believe that the work also needs to be crafted along the way. Secondly the days agenda showed me how good tools help you facilitate a workshop and how people can be motivated to be more inspirational. Third, but not the least reminder was that your own occupational healt is important and that is something you can desing yourself.
The author Siru Sirén is MBA student in Futures Studies and Customer-Oriented Services in Laurea UAS// Licenced social service professional
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