New Ways of Working by Crafting Mobile and Multi-Locational Work
The NewWoW Crafting project was launched in June 2017 and ended in November 2019. The goal of the project was to identify the practices of working time and workspace management, crafted by employees in micro and SMEs involved in mobile and multi-locational work, in order to balance their own resources with the demands of the job.
The NewWoW project had three objectives: firstly, it aimed to discover any obstacles to the use and development of new types of working time and workspace ecosystems as well as their untapped potential. Secondly, the aim was to produce practical tools to make use of this potential in order to improve the productivity of their work and well-being of the employees. The third objective of the project was to strengthen the cooperation between the participating micro and SMEs and Occupational Health Services (OHS).
Researching job crafting
In the beginning of the project, we conducted a survey in each participating company to find out the degree to which employees were currently crafting their work, in terms of the demands and resources of their work (including working time and the physical environment). In addition, the survey contained questions related to, e.g., work engagement and motivation as well as team performance. We received answers from 412 respondents.
Based on the survey, employees in micro and SMEs have a lot of flexibility and autonomy in time use. More than two thirds of the respondents could determine their working hours themselves. Moreover, the survey results indicate that approximately 60 per cent of working time is spent at the employer’s premises, while 14 per cent of time is spent working from home.
While the majority of time is spent working at the employer’s premises, most respondents found it important to be able to influence the work surroundings. Over 60 per cent of respondents felt that being able to choose where to work would improve their performance. As an open-ended question we asked, “What is the most central challenge in your work?” The analysis of the answers resulted in an interesting spectrum of challenges experienced in micro and SMEs and in total 22 different challenge categories. “Time management and prioritization” was the largest category based on the analysis, containing approximately 25 per cent of the answers.
Over 60 per cent of respondents felt that being able to choose where to work would improve their performance.
In comparison, the second and third largest categories were “Sales and stakeholder relations” with 9 per cent of answers and “Organization and management of activities” with an 8 per cent share of the answers. Thus, these results confirmed the importance of time management and prioritization as focal areas for the development of novel work crafting activities. The survey results were used to provide an overview for each company of the current state of the work demands and resources and to identify areas for development. Snapshots from the survey results were presented in each workshop to ignite discussion around the topics.
Exploring workplace well-being and Occupational Health Co-operation in micro and SMEs
Workplace well-being and Occupational Health Co-operation (OHC) were examined through questionnaires directed to the SMEs’ personnel and their Occupational Health Services (OHS) teams when starting the project. Three out of five of the employees and managers experienced psycho-social workload and two out of five felt that their work was socially demanding.
In addition, time pressure, as well as an excessive amount and fragmentation of work were the most common sources of stress. Planning of work, prioritization and delegating tasks were the most common stress-management strategies. In addition to meaningful work, work well-being was enhanced by a well-functioning work community and good leadership.
work well-being was enhanced by a well-functioning work community and good leadership
Virtual and face-to-face communication supported work well-being. The OHS were actively used by the employees. The most common services used were health examinations, doctor’s appointments and personal health education. The role of Occupational Health Co-operation OHS was not focal to the SMEs in workability promotion. It was carried out between individuals rather than organizations.
Sharing own work habits to others
The number one question was can we enhance well-being and productivity at workplaces by using job crafting? If we can, then how? During the project, the companies participated in three different workshops with three different themes: working time, working places and working habits and methods. The aim was to create opportunities in shared thinking and developing. The process led to very different types of experiments and changes in each work community to master better different challenges in mobile and multi-locational work.
The common challenges were to create more reflective working time, to manage interruptions and disturbances, how to master work in different types of virtual places, how to manage multipresence and how to reach a sense of belonging when working in a multi-locational way. One important and useful tool was overall to create common rules from different aspects. The main goal was to create new ways to manage challenges and increase wellbeing.
Co-creating Occupational Health Co-operation
Occupational health co-operation was enhanced in facilitated workshops between micro and SMEs and their Occupational Health Services (OHS) teams. The focus was on the characteristics of mobile and multi-locational work and its health effects and co-creating solutions that promote well-being at work. Each workshop resulted in concrete solutions to the individual needs of the micro and SMEs that were put into practice in the co-operation between the micro and SMEs and their OHS. During the process, good models and methods of occupational health co-operation were created that can be utilized also in other contexts.
“Everyone deserves a fantastic workplace!”
The final seminar “Wow what a workplace! took place on 24th September 2019. Project consortium presented the main results and was the place to launch the Howspace-platform, which gathered all the results and coaching materials in one digital place.
it’s all about us instead of it’s all about me
As keynote speaker in the second (final) seminar was an internationally experienced, senior property, workplace, facilities and change management leader Neil Usher who is the well-known author of the book “Elemental Workplace”. His message to the audience was that everybody deserves a fantastic workplace. The path to get there is to create team-centric workplaces, which means it’s all about us instead of it’s all about me. This is also one of the key findings in the NewWoW project: one can only get so far by individual job crafting and much further by team crafting.
Project results available via digital platform
The information we have gathered from the questionnaires and workshops is now tailored in a digital training package for different situations in the form of tools, research summaries and individual stories. The categorization is the same as in workshops: Crafting
- working time,
- work habits and methods,
- occupational health cooperation.
The basic idea for the tools is that they should be user-friendly and offer clear instructions how to follow-up and support the changes. It is hard to change work habits, which is why most of the tools start with making observations of the current situation to find out the best way of doing things. The research summaries include the newest information available on topics mentioned above. The individual stories tell how job crafting can be done in everyday life. There are stories from work-life balance to concrete tips on how to manage your email chaos or how to boost your energy levels with virtual coffee breaks.
On top of the new digital platform, we have produced a publication on job crafting in mobile and multi-locational work. It consists of articles on the project’s themes and describes a couple of job crafting tools. Unfortunately, it is only available in Finnish.
The NewWoW platform is open to everyone interested in crafting their own work and enhancing the Occupational Health Co-operation.
Sign to NewWoW platform
Project coordinator Milla Roininen & content expert Anu Granberg, Turku University of Applied Sciences
Researcher Outi Vanharanta, Aalto University
Development manager Helena Palmgren, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health