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Hacking HR 'workshop' presentation on distributed vs remote work

Presentation following on from my panel at HackingHR's first HR Innovation and Future of Work global conference. Looking at the opportunity to extend / build on remote work into more distributed organisations supporting innovation and development beyond the covid-19 pandemic. See:

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Hacking HR 'workshop' presentation on distributed vs remote work

  1. 1. Jon Ingham • 20+ years in strategic HR, including as International HR Director • Independent consultant, trainer, speaker, blogger, author… • ‘The Social Organization’ (June 2017) • With Dave Ulrich: ‘Building Better HR Departments’ (2016) • A strategic perspective to all areas of people management and organisation effectiveness • Including use of physical and digital workplaces as an aspect of organisation
  2. 2. Remote Work and Distributed Organisations
  3. 3. Grouping Specialists for Increasingly Complex Work Supply • Increasingly specialist to stay current given increased knowledge available and rate of its development • Ideally ‘T’ shaped professionals with multiple specialisms and breadth of focus plus great soft skills Demand • Complex, cross-disciplinary needs requiring specialists to work together in groups and networks • Relationship workers vs just knowledge workers • Social leadership = leading groups and networks vs just individuals
  4. 4. Centralised, Decentralised and Distributed Organisation
  5. 5. Communities Networks Functions Project Teams Centralised, Decentralised and Distributed Organisation Task focus, Extrinsic motivation Human focus, Intrinsic motivation Internal orientation External orientation
  6. 6. Functions and Divisions Groupings of people co-ordinating their work with others at same level working for the same manager Working in series rather than parallel – Peter Drucker: “they play on the team, They do not play as a team” Leading functions = leading individuals (groupings not real teams, eg they do not need daily team meetings!) Main requirements are trust and psychological safety
  7. 7. Horizontal Teams Cross-disciplinary collaboration to deliver outputs Includes process, project, agile and product management teams Increasing projectisation in many areas of work Leading teams = focusing on the team outputs Ensuring individuals are motivated to help the team Balancing team and individual focus Note increasing use of self managed teams
  8. 8. Crisis Management Teams • Create teams that will tackle current strategic priorities and key challenges facing the organization. • These empowered teams get to make the calls within the authority delegated to them and do not need permission from others. • This will work only if they each have a “commander’s intent”—a clear goal that allows them to make decisions within a set of parameters.
  9. 9. Communities Small groups with passion for a domain Cultivation of relationships across members who may decide to work together Opportunity for ‘communities of performance’ Leading communities = focusing on the people and the community, facilitating connection Henry Mintzberg ‘Communityship’: being personally engaged in order to engage others, so that anyone and everyone can exercise initiative.
  10. 10. Volunteer Communities Steps to community participation in the COVID-19 response: • Invest in coproduction • Work with community groups • Commit to diversity • Be responsive and transparent
  11. 11. Distributed Networks Individuals linked by a common technological / cultural platform who may decide to co-operate together around a particular domain Great for sharing information - harder, but not impossible, to produce outputs Leading networks = encouraging curiosity and desire to co-operate (eg by working out loud) Brokering connections between network members and with other networks
  12. 12. Innovation Networks “A truly collaborative, international effort, with the best and brightest engineering and manufacturing brains coming together to rally all their resources in response to the distress signal from the NHS.” “Others pursued the start-from-scratch approach and some of those projects have been turned off.” - Dick Elsy, CEO of the HVM Catapult
  13. 13. The Social Organization Combining functions, teams, communities and networks Individual employees may often be participants within each type of group / network
  14. 14. Eg The Melded Network HR Model Centres of Excellence → Communities Service Centre → Platform Management + Projects + Networks (HR Business Partner → HR to Business Network Broker)
  15. 15. Returning to Remote Working Organisations have become more decentralised: • Crisis management teams • Volunteer and support communities • More autonomy (trust and track vs command and control) • Huge increase in use of team chat tools, eg MS Teams
  16. 16. Returning to Remote Working Organisations have not yet become more distributed (other than geographically): • Reduced chance collisions in the corridor • Smaller increase in use of enterprise social networks, eg Yammer Yet this will be vital for innovation and change management in and beyond the pandemic
  17. 17. For More Information About me: “Strategic HCM”: / “The Social Organisation”: / Social media:, Email:, phone: +44 7904 185134