A spate of recent news suggests unemployment is dropping. If government figures are to be trusted this is wonderful news for those affected. Twice during my childhood my father was made redundant and thankfully the pain of his redundancies is distant memory. If the economy is improving, the return to health is fragile. I cannot celebrate the current economy and see too many setbacks to our well being ahead of us. Recent events in Ukraine, the sudden shrinkage of manufacturing in Australia and continuing troubles at The Cooperative Group and international financial banking suggest a bout of sickness could return at any moment.
Many CIOs and organisations report to me that they are seeing increased demand. A standard response is to throw more staff at the problem. I know a little of unemployment and don't wish it on anyone, but just ramping up your full time employees or contractors is not the answer. It is not the answer for your organisation, for your existing teams or the potential candidates looking to get back to work.
Smart working is the answer; because smart working is sustainable. Finding the most efficient ways to operate your organisation, the most seamless way to serve your customers is sustainable. In the last issue we reported on the factory line innovations pioneered by the employees of Nissan in Sunderland has created the most productive car factory in Europe. Although no lover of cars, it is wonderful to know that the UK's skills at smart working have once again put us at the top of the pile in this highly competitive market.
A smart and sustainable organisation will, in time, create jobs. But it is far more beneficial that those jobs are smart jobs and a smart use of resources, because if they are, as Nissan show, they are sustainable jobs. We've all seen increased human resources thrown at an aged way of operating or a misguided belief that there's nothing wrong with the process, only for the organisation to fail and the hopes and dreams of those rescued from unemployment once again dashed against the rocks.
For those of us in leadership positions it is imperative that we create a culture of smart working. We must create smart workers who will be adaptable and efficient and then, should the worst come to pass and our fragile economy coughs and fits again, they will adapt and prosper. I'm extremely proud of how my father adapted from farming, to factory work, HGV driving and building, re-skilling himself at every turn and being a smart worker at all roles.
So before we double our head count to cope with what may be short term demand, we owe it to everyone, to ensure we are doing the smart thing.