Working remotely has quickly become the new normal. COVID-19 has kicked millions of employees out of their work offices and into their home offices. Let’s be honest, how bad can this be? Technology has become so advanced that it makes it easy to work digitally and collaboratively from the comfort of your own home. Businesses are slowly beginning to allow their employees to choose to work remotely forever. This is possible because of digital organizations using self-managed actors to work collaboratively to overpower hierarchical organizations. A digital organization is a team of organized members consisting of both digital and human agents who share means of communication, control, and coordination (Snow, C. C., Fjeldstad, Ø. D., & Langer, A. M. 2017). This developing trend can provide an ample amount of new opportunities and benefits for a business.
Ditching Hierarchy in the Workplace
A traditional organization in the workplace is set up hierarchically. This means that there is an authoritative figure that controls and coordinates the employees and their work. This isn’t as effective in the digital world because having such strict organization doesn’t encourage innovation and new ideas. With how unpredictable and unsteady technology and the digital world can be, a self-organized digital organization, leaves plenty of room for adjustment. When working in a hierarchical environment, employees have the mindset that they are paid to do one specific job. They are told to report all their ideas and content to the “higher ups” for their approval. This can cause employees to become less motivated to take initiative if they constantly fear that their ideas will be shut down. Transferring to a digital organization gives each member the mindset that their ideas and opinions are all equally important. Actors can be individuals, teams, or firms, that possess the capabilities and values to self-organize. Actors engage through self-management, so they do not follow direction received from the hierarchy (Snow, C. C., Fjeldstad, Ø. D., & Langer, A. M. 2017). If a few of these actors, who are equally trained with similar soft and hard skills were to collaborate and combine their knowledge instead of work individually only to have their ideas be approved by a manager, they would save an extended amount of time. Through this, they have developed trust within themselves and understand that their actions will directly impact the company.
How Business Operations Can Improve Through Collaboration
The saying, “two heads are greater than one” easily applies in the workforce. Digital organizations provide unity as self-managed individuals share their resources to provide quality products and services to consumers. The sharing of resources can provide fresh insight and spark new ideas. As these organizations begin to shift to a more decentralized structure, they are now digitally assessing opportunities, developing and delivering products and services, and interacting with customers and stakeholders alongside their peers. The creation of digital organizations can be beneficial for businesses by gathering members that are highly engaged and productive. Collaboration has been shown to reduce risk, increase speed, decrease costs, and enable access to new knowledge, technologies, and markets (Snow, C. C., Fjeldstad, Ø. D., & Langer, A. M. 2017). When employees feel as though they have equal amount of power and authority in making important business decisions, they have more motivation to provide their best work. People can be highly motivated by reward. If they are confident that their efforts will be beneficial to the company, they will feel empowered and valued. Platforms such as Slack, Teams, Zoom, etc. make these group projects convenient as they provide a way for colleagues to come together and create content simultaneously. With these platforms, actors can communicate with each other to share their resources and ideas and establish effective content for their business.
These organizations that use digital technologies can increase the speed of their operations which can help lower the cost. Technology is something that will always be improving, it provides new opportunities to companies as they stay relevant with the everchanging online media. Turning digital also allows these organizations to stay a step ahead of their competitiors. These technologies also give their customers a greater opportunity to co-design and co-produce their products. Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg stated that Facebook will be offering employees the option to permanently work remotely. He says remote work provides the opportunity to recruit outside the usual tech hubs and, as a result, will increase Facebook’s work diversity. Zuckerberg believes that if going remote is done efficiently, it is possible to save some capital (Ghaffary, 2020).
As COVID-19 still leaves many individuals at home, this trend is going to continue to grow. Digital organizations can lead to successful businesses if conducted correctly and efficiently. There are many benefits for both the company as well as the self-managed individuals that learn to take charge, create their best work, and put forth their best ideas as a team.
Ghaffary, S. (Director). (2020, May 21). [Video file]. Retrieved September 13, 2020, from https://www.vox.com/recode/2020/5/21/21266570/facebook-remote-work-from-home-mark-zuckerberg-twitter-covid-19-coronavirus
Snow, C. C., Fjeldstad, Ø. D., & Langer, A. M. (2017). Designing the digital organization. Journal of Organization Design (Aarhus), 6(1), 1-13. doi:10.1186/s41469-017-0017-y
Written by Jessie Burgess. You can learn more about Jessie and our other blogwriters by clicking the “Our Team” banner at the top!