Lumbering giants

Alison Maitland's picture

How can big organisations become more agile about work? A European study just published by Microsoft shows that only 9 per cent of employees in larger companies are able to work regularly away from the office, even though most people want greater freedom over where and when they work. Half the 1,500 respondents said they had no access to even basic technology to enable them to work remotely. The larger the organization, the less likely they were to have any choice over hours and location. These are 19th century working practices alive and well in the 21st century.

Small businesses are rather more flexible than big ones, the study confirms. We suggest one way for large organizations to gain the benefits of future work - productivity, talent, speed to market and much more - is to encourage a hands-off, entrepreneurial culture in which people have freedom to act in the best interests of the business. Then teams might start acting like small businesses and competing to see who can achieve the most innovative and efficient working practices fastest.

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