Earlier in my career, I was part of a multinational company working in various HR roles across different businesses and countries. At that time, I was involved in a large business-transformation as well as a HR function transformation. It was not always easy, but very rewarding and a great opportunity for personal development. So I will share these experiences from the world of HR in my next blogs.
Later in my career, I moved into the field of workplace strategy, design and furniture, where I started to understand the world of real estate, design and workplace. I experienced the disconnect between workplace and the HR world, and started to understand the power behind true integration between human resources, work space and technology.
I was not aware of the big rewards that could be achieved through both a new way of working and workplace design, when I was working in HR. If I had of been, then I feel I could have been much more successful in my previous roles and contribute much more to the business and the people. So its with this passion and drive now that I wanted to write about this topic, in the hope that it inspires HR colleagues around the world to be involved and to drive cultural change through a new way of working. As this is where I come from when I say ABW is good business for HR.
The traditional way of Human Resources
Let’s start with the transformation that HR has to undergo to be able to play a key role in ABW programs.
The Oxford Dictionary simply defines Human Resources (HR) as ‘The department of a business or organization that deals with the hiring, administration, and training of staff’. The role of the HR department has been, and still is in many organisations, to serve as the systematizing, policing arm of executive management. The role in this context was more about personnel and admin functions with the purpose of maximising employee utilisation and performance. This is not surprising if you realise that HR departments in many companies come out of Administration of Finance.
Why does Human Resources need to transform?
HR needs to transform because the world is changing. In other words the function of HR needs to align with forward-thinking practices, lead modern thinking, mentor business transformation and contribute to the business purpose, goals and profitability.
Besides those people-related administrative HR functions, which are still important, there are also less tangible HR components that are essential to support long-term organisational goals and outcomes. Such as motivation, organisational culture, skills and competence, social interaction, and increasing innovation, creativity and flexibility.
Three New HR Roles
Within this environment, the HR professional considered necessary by managers and executives, is:
- a strategic partner,
- an employee sponsor or advocate and
- a change mentor.
These roles were recommended and discussed in ‘Human Resource Champions’, by Dr. Dave Ulrich, one of the best thinkers and writers in the HR field today, and a professor at the University of Michigan. My next blogs therefore will dive deeper into these roles and how they specifically relate to ABW.
A great opportunity to contribute to a new workstyle
The HR professionals who embrace these roles are leading their organizations in areas such as organization development, strategic utilization of employees to serve business goals, talent management and development. Successful organisations are becoming more flexible, resilient, agile and customer-centered. When organisations are moving towards a new way of working, such as ABW, Veldhoen+Company always collaborates very closely with the HR department. HR has an essential role in implementing this transformation effectively and successfully and is at the same time a great opportunity for HR professionals to grow into their new role in the organisation and make a difference.
If this has inspired you to read more, have a look at:
- How to navigate teams through resistance and change
- How to reinvent your culture with Activity Based Working
Share your thoughts around ABW and HR to continue the conversation.