Top Tips on Workplace Transformation for SMEs

In our previous blog ‘You’re on mute:  #WFH’ we explored the workplace transformation during the COVID-19 pandemic. Based on the WFH project and fireside chats we conducted with organisations, there are some top tips on the workplace transformation we would like to propose to SMEs.  

1. Take an agile approach to flexible working

Flexible working refers to how organisations organise their work in terms of schedule, position, and pattern. As more people think differently about how, when, and where they work, flexible working is gradually helping society to enter the labour force and remain employed. As described by one of the interviewees, a “mixture of people want to go back into work, but most feel a hybrid workspace is the best way forward”. This shows that some people are happy having a more agile approach to work as it is a good way to build a good work/life balance. Positives from this way of working as stated by Sussanne and Rashad in 2014, that the employer “with the ability to schedule the work himself/herself, employees feel that the employer cares about well-being and non-working life of the employee”. Flexible working measures can help businesses in acquiring the right talent, improving worker job approval and reliability, low rate of absence, promoting employee well-being, and making employees more adaptive to change.

Since there has been a strong signal of favourable outcomes for both the employee and the company, there has been a rising strand of research on flexible working arrangements in recent years. Flexibility in the workplace is described as "the capability of people to change where, when, and how much time they spend on job projects". Flexibility in the work environment has become common, and it is often employed as part of a human resource plan to attract, inspire, and retain essential employees. As a result, firms have begun to offer flexible working choices as a work situation for their employees.

Several firms are also encouraged by the government to offer flexible working conditions to their employees, such as flexi-hours, flexible or remote work locations, and part-time work alternatives. Flexible working times have been put into effect to assist parental of workers, in order to support them in balancing work and life duties. Workers believe that flexible working methods improve workplace self-esteem, which may have a positive impact on work-life balance. Workers often consider whether their managers can support them in balancing their work and personal activities. 

2. Provide mental health and well-being support to employees 

Interviewees from fireside chats agree that “the company have set up well-being counsels for employees, with managers getting training on this to start asking employees how they are feeling”. This shows that the company cares about the people, which makes the employees more satisfied and feel more valued. Also, this can step up collaboration and build teamwork between employees. They claim that it can be “mentally demanding” working from home and stressful being “monitored constantly by a system to see what you’re doing and the hours you work”. They feel that with our approach of monitoring workers we would be able to avoid causing more stress on workers, especially if we give clarity on the situation and how we will be monitoring them.

There has been existing well-being platforms to help employees discuss various issues concerning their work and its environment. This platform is either provided by their organizations or their private platform created by individuals to help employees discuss issues, if they are not comfortable speaking on the platform provided by the organization. It is the obligation of the employer to develop a work environment (workplace wellness culture) that promotes employee happiness, e.g. introducing a counselling service, which will of course come with a cost. Though it’s become evident that supporting employees in their personal lives, not only enhances their quality of life but also enables them to perform to a higher standard of work, which is a win-win for both parties. This is further advocated by a study by Gartner (2020) that found a 23% increase in employees reporting better mental health and an increase of 17% when it comes to better physical health in organisations, where the life experiences of employees are supported.  

3. Be transparent on workplace surveillance  

Often observed, monitored workers can experience decreased job satisfaction and a decline in the quality of relationships with peers, supervisors, and senior management. This can be put down to trust being eroded between workers and the management using surveillance. One way to resolve this is by being transparent with how the organisation is monitoring their devices and how any information will be used. This has also been identified by many researchers, who believe that transparency in the implementation and maintenance of an employee monitoring program should really alleviate negative reactions and responses to any monitoring. This method of transparency in the workplace will make workers feel more valued and more a part of decisions within the organisation, which in turn will motivate workers. CurrentWare has suggested 5 Ways Transparency is Key When Monitoring Employees in the Workplace. 

4. Investigate new techs to help with employees’ communication and productivity 

As stated by Lin, the benefits of using software such as Robotic Process Automation (RPA), include fast deployment, consistent performance, and lower operational cost. The recent development of this technology, as it can operate the whole back end of the business, removes repetitive tasks for workers and also makes these repetitive tasks more effective. It is also at a quicker rate compared to accountants doing these repetitive tasks. In the meantime, with the agile approach to work and the current climate due to the pandemic, communication technology would be a valuable investment for now and the future. It will not just allow organisations to communicate with clients anywhere in the world to broaden business demographic and market, but also to promote collaboration and co-creation between employees. 

If you are interested in the workplace transformation and would like to explore how we can help you, please contact us on: Marie Griffiths ( / Yun Chen (