Posted on Wednesday 14 November 2012 by Ulster Business
Eamonn Joyce (Senior Sales Professional Education Sector, BT), Brendan Galbraith (Innovation Academic, Ulster Business School), Dr Nicola Millard (Customer Experience Futureologist, BT Global Services), Maureen Fox (Business Development Manager, Ulster Business School)
How do you overcome the challenges of managing virtual employees? What are the work styles and practices of the future? And to what extent is enhanced work productivity linked to work styles? These were just a few of the organisational challenges that were explored by Dr Nicola Millard, a Customer Experience Futureologist at BT Global Services, in a fascinating lecture at the Ulster Business School.
Dr Millard highlighted the pressing need for organisations to better understand how employees are changing and to align HR strategies that effectively address these changes. It was shown that BT has been a pioneer in how they transformed the way they do business and shaped the work style of their employees. When it comes to defining the work style, Dr Millard outlined that a powerful motivator is to give people the choice of when and where they work.
Dr Millard enthused:
"To overcome the challenges of managing virtual employees – manage on output measures! Learn more about your people, giving them choices and educate your managers on the importance of getting to know your people."
And Dr Millard is not a fan of traditional office spaces:
"Small offices for innovators are like battery farms – they produce impoverished eggs! People can think differently if they are not in office cubicles and processes can be more attune to collaboration."
BT has pioneered future work styles and offer flexible working arrangements. An interesting statistic to support this is that BT has a 97% return rate of mothers coming back to the workplace after having a child. Dr Millard shared observations on how top global companies such as Facebook and Google tap into the creativity of their employees:
"Google and Facebook offer free food in their offices. Why? Because Generation Y don't want to work from home and don't cook, so they get free food. So, open kitchen office spaces are good collaboration spaces."
Dr Millard's keynote presentation entitled "Workshift: The Future of Work" was delivered to students from the BSc (Hons) Management and Leadership Development, MSc Business Development and Innovation, MSc Marketing, and MBA programmes.
Maureen Fox, Business Development Manager, who arranged Dr Millard's visit with BT said:
"The Ulster Business School works very closely with the business community on many levels. A fundamental part of this is to engage experts from industry to work with our students wherever possible. We were delighted to welcome Dr Nicola Millard from BT to the Ulster Business School to deliver a stimulating Masterclass to students studying on a range of our undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. The Masterclass was designed to challenge current thinking and evoke innovation amongst our students, many of whom will become future leaders and managers within the regional economy."