On last Monday, August 28th, we opened a <Digital Nomad Meet Up> at J-Space, the collaborative space of Jeju Center for Creative Economy and Innovation. We have discussed about ‘Why remote working?’ at the <Digital Nomad Meet Up ‘Hello Seogwipo!’> last July.
The <Digital Nomad Meet Up> this August started from a notion why we feel so distant from ‘working freely at places where we would like to work’ when there is a boom on ‘co-working spaces’ and an increase in people wanting to live as a ‘digital nomad’. We have decided to look for the answers in companies and public areas that are willing to implement ‘Remote Working’ rather than individual ‘Digital Nomads’. If a company and public institution chooses to ‘Remote Work’ than it is because the ‘Remote Work’ is a ‘Smart Work’!
The Balance of Space - People - Technology; Smart Work
On November 2013, Microsoft Korea moved to its new building in Gwanghwamun, opening the era of “Free Style Workspace”. Various divisions harmonized under the motto ‘the balance of People, Space, and Technology’ and continued the innovation of a smart office. Many organizations are experiencing a lot of trial and errors when they adapted the Smart Office. They say that it is difficult to face the actual results of a Smart Office if you approach it just as a tool and technology when in fact it is a sum of environment, system, and culture.
The prototype of Microsoft Smart Office in Korea is from the innovative activity called 'New Word of Work' which was promoted in 2005. A new work environment based on 'people, space, and technology' and the expansions of working methods were set at this time. Then the human resource department and asset management participated in innovation activities through collaboration. The 'people, space, and technology' is not a slogan but it symbolizes their role. A new work environment and tools must be aligned with the performance evaluations and rewards because it is not easy for the employees to adapt to a new working environment and method without motivation, evaluation, and rewards. The trends in workplace, work, and organizational management have changed a lot but the principles of Microsoft Korea’s ‘People, Space, and Technology’ are still practiced.
There was an increased interest on Work & Life Balance in the mid/late 2000s. In recent years, many companies are trying to have a ‘good workspace to work’ by creating an environment where they can immerse themselves to work better rather than increasing the working hours. As the millennial generation (born in the early 1980s~2000s) involves more in the organization, more time is spent on how to smoothly implement the ‘Work-Life Integration’ rather than spending time more on leisure. This change in values of work and career brings the development of technology and the era of ‘new normal’ in advance.
Microsoft Korea had a mission to provide a new system on compensations and work performance measurements as well as flexible work environment due to the changed values of work. They classified the work styles and attributes to provide a flexible work environment that can bring out the ‘balance of a personal style and a work style’. In addition, the members can select to have a designated seat, undesignated seat, remote working system, or teleworking system according to the business attributes and their roles and responsibility at work. You can also receive IT tools and services based on your working style if you could understand your style and attributes!
But the most important thing is the performance measurement and compensation of the members. In order to practice a smart office run by a member, not an organization, it is necessary to accurately measure the performance of those who concentrated and worked their best regardless of the time and place. And that the compensation for this should be done properly. Only then a voluntary participating culture will be created! Microsoft Korea is trying to specifically look into who they communicated and collaborated to achieve a certain goal rather than seeing how many hours they work at a certain environment for the performance evaluation.
Method on leading your life, Start ‘UP’
Alleys Wonder Lab is a startup that provides a video map service with a crowdsourcing method wherein the public participates and display the contents. It has a relationship with Jeju through the Stay Support Program of Jeju Center for Creative Economy and Innovation and experiment the ‘Remote Working’ system in Jeju. I wonder why they were experimenting ‘Remote Working’ and what kinds of trial and errors they have experienced.
Many of the members of the company are from big corporations. They said they have created a pleasant balanced Life & Work environment with flexible working hours and horizontal company culture. Thinking that as a startup company, they need at least one game machine inside the office and barbeque party as well as telecommuting is obviously possible if the members wanted it. However, they said they soon realized that it was a common mistake of a startup representative with a realization that the horizontal culture and flexible working hours should be a ‘tool for increasing work efficiency’ and not a ‘tool for motivation’!
>>> Common mistakes of a startup company representatives
(partial document from Alleys Wonder Lab CEO Kim Ji Hwan’s presentation)
①Silicon Valley said startups have liberal and horizontal culture.
②Isn’t it thankful enough for them to come and work at a startup company? We should reward them with these welfares.
③A liberal ambience and flexible working hours will motivate the employees to work harder.
④Rocketpunch ask us to write down the advantages of the company. Shouldn’t we at least mention these?
⑤Google, Facebook, Baemin provides these office as a welfare.
After that, they said they implemented a ‘limited flexible working hours’. Employees can come to work at any time they want to but they must participate in the 11AM meeting and should constantly update and share each other's goals and work mainly around the meeting hours. The members may freely schedule themselves to achieve their goals but the company executed a ‘permission system for holidays and notification system for working at home’. If you wish to work from home today, it must be done with a condition that you will ‘complete the work by saving the commuting time’ not because ‘you do not want to go to work’. And they do not regularly do a meeting or a workshop, but do it in a sense as a reward after seeing them achieving the goal.
In the end, you’ll find out that these attempts are consistently executable when the ‘tools’ are useful to increase the efficiency of work. As part of such effort, they participated in the Jeju Daum, a Stay Support Program of Jeju Center for Creative Economy and Innovation last April. The CEO of Alleys Wonder Lab, Kim Ji Hwan told another member of the company to experience the digital nomad at Jeju and said to ‘meet 100% of the work while enjoying the stay’. If the work performance of the month is 80%, then it is a failure but if it reaches 120%, it is a successful experiment and when it is reached, he promised for an expansion. As a result, the experiment failed because he said that it was a business environment not suitable for a developer. But because this experiment was a failure, it does not stop their attempt to experience. They analyzed the results and are planning for another experiment. They are going to ‘Nepal’ after ‘Jeju’ for a global project. We look forward to Alleys Wonder Lab’s Remote Working experiments as well as their projects.
▶ For those who are interested to know more about the company, check the interview of ‘The story of Alleys Wonder Lab’
Adding ‘Smart’ to public services
The Jeju Smart Welfare Center is a test operating organization opened on August 2016 after being selected as the ‘top 300 government’s 3.0 highlighted promotion projects’ in 2016. It is the first ‘welfare center without a building’ based on deinstitutionalization of social welfare. It is a system wherein the social welfare center goes to the people who need the services and not making them visit the center.
The main business of Jeju Smart Welfare Center is not much different from those of general welfare centers but there is a big difference on the operation and maintenance expenses. It is said that a huge investment is made on designing and having additional facilities for the disabled people and seniors. Although more than 100 won costs to build a building, the disabled and elderly people who are uncomfortable in moving are experiencing a great inconvenience to visit the welfare centers.
The Jeju Smart Welfare Center utilizes the empty spaces in town with a minimal space for an office. It is much easier for the people to receive services, such as running a lifelong education business in an empty space within an apartment of low-income families. In addition, unlike the general welfare centers, they utilize the ‘groupware’ and various cloud services and tabs as a consultation papers to minimize the use of a paper. Also, it is said that it is increasing the mobility by utilizing the small Segway rather than the conventional vehicles. It is not an exaggeration to say that this is a 'smart' welfare center as it is providing more suitable services to the people who need the welfare services in the blind spots by drastically reducing the time and the budget.
There is no 'building' but there is a 'person' in the Jeju Smart Welfare Center. The meaning of smart work for them is towards the ‘people’. Many public institutions can refer to them as it provides the public services in the right place while saving taxes!
To work smartly, Smart Work
We had a time to share the opinions of the participants before ending the meet up. Some people said the 'Remote Work’ or 'Smart Work' is not something that felt distant from and it was something that they could fully agree to. There was this one participant who left a wise saying(!) that ‘a smart work is finishing up your work fast and doing a creative work by utilizing what is near you’.
There are not many organizations that implement the 'Remote Work' locally or internationally. Although 'Remote Work' is not the right method for every organization, it' is a meaningful way for a 'Smart Work' and some companies have already implemented it successfully!
Jeju Center for Creative Economy and Innovation will collect and share the trial and errors and the know-hows of the remote working companies domestically and internationally in the future. Please watch out the efforts of Jeju Center for Creative Economy and Innovation in finding for remote working companies and in creating Jeju for those remote workers!
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