People want to work for organisations that don’t feel too organised, according to a new survey of business leaders commissioned by Demos and Orange.
Employers will find themselves under increasing pressure to enable staff to align their working lives with their personal values and lifestyle aspirations. Increased requests for flexible working, more people asking to take part in CSR projects and significant preference for working in smaller rather than larger organisations are all part of this pressure for disorganisation.
The research is published in a new report called Disorganisation, which predicts changes in culture and management style in organisations of the future. The authors argue that future organisations will have to ‘disorganise’ in order to retain creative people who expect greater freedom and flexibility at work.
The business leader poll conducted by NOP for Demos and Orange reveals that most respondents (85%) thought that flexible working would increase job satisfaction. The majority (59%) of business leaders said that they would allow their staff to work more flexibly.
More employees are likely to want to be active citizens as well as paid employees during work hours. Over half of business leaders polled (56%) expected demand would increase from employees wanting to get involved in corporate social responsibility (CSR) projects such as volunteering in the community.
“Organisations will have to loosen up so that they feel less like organisations to their employees,” say the authors of the report, Paul Miller and Paul Skidmore from Demos. “That is what we mean by ‘disorganisation’. People want to work in organisations that feel a bit more human, and offer greater flexibility and autonomy. They want to work for organisations that respect and reflect their values; they want to define their work rather than have work define their identity.”
The research indicates that many people want more flexibility and autonomy in their jobs. Business leaders expect to have to respond to this demand, and in numerous companies many already have.
However a second survey commissioned from MORI by Demos and Orange for the report suggests that traditional hierarchies are still operating in many organisations. One in five people in work (20%) say they speak to their boss's boss less than once a year according to a representative survey of the British people.
“It is increasingly important that an organisation meets the needs of its people in order to meet the broader demands of business, shareholders and customers,” says Mike Newnham, vice president of Business Solutions at Orange UK. “If not, the employees and the intellectual capital they possess will walk out the door, taking an irreplaceable part of the organisation with them.”
The preference for working for ‘disorganisations’ seems to be supported by a significant proportion of people who say they would like to work for a smaller employer. For example, one in five people (20%) told MORI that they would prefer to work for smaller companies, while only one in eight (13%) said they would prefer to work for a larger organisation.
Twice as many professionals (the AB social grouping) say they to want to work for a smaller employer than say they want to work for a larger one: more than a quarter (27%) said they would prefer to work in a smaller organisation, while only 14% said they would prefer to work in a larger organisation.
The authors predict that people will be increasingly attracted to working in ‘disorganised’ companies, which feel more like looser networks and less like large machines. The report highlights a number of ‘case study companies’ whose innovative forms of organisations can be seen as reflecting a wider aspiration for freedom and flexibility at work within a less traditional structure.
Examples of ‘case study companies’ mentioned in the report include Innocent Drinks, recently voted UK employer of the year, and WL Gore. Although companies with these kinds of unusual structures or employee relations are unlikely to become the norm, large companies will have to understand that they represent aspirations and ambitions present in their own workforce.
Notes to editors
- Disorganisation: Why future organisations should ‘loosen up’ will be launched at a breakfast seminar on Thursday 25th November, 8-10am. The event will take place at the Energy Clinic, London E1 6NG. Please register for the event by contacting the organisers on 0208 875 8651 or email@example.com.
- Disorganisation: Why future organisations should ‘loosen up’ is published by Demos in partnership with Orange on Thursday 25 November 2004. Copies can be downloaded from /publications/futureoforganisation or ordered from Central Books on 020 8986 5488.
- Demos is an independent think tank with a long-standing research interest in work, creativity and organisations.
- Paul Miller and Paul Skidmore are senior researchers at Demos. Their previous collaboration was on a report on the future of regulation called The Long Game.
- Orange, wirefree and any other Orange product or service referred to in this release are trademarks of Orange. Orange UK provides high quality coverage to 99% of the UK population, and offers roaming to pay monthly customers on 357 networks in 148 countries and to pay as you go customers on 94 networks in 53 countries. At the end of September 2004, Orange UK had over 13.87 million active customers, more than any other UK network, making it the UK’s number one. In October 2004, Orange UK won the Mobile Choice Consumer Awards - voted for by readers of Mobile Choice magazine – for Best Network Operator for the four year running. Information about Orange can be found on the Orange website at www.orange.co.uk and media information can be found at www.orange.com
- MORI interviewed 1,037 working adult members of the British public. Interviews were conducted face-to-face between 23–28 September 2004, and the data are weighted to the known population profile.
- NOP interviewed 500 business decision makers using a CATI methodology. The sample was quota’ed to ensure analysable bases for various company sizes, and subsequently post-weighted to ensure representativeness. Results are therefore representative of all UK businesses.