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Future of work: less hierarchy, more self-managed teams

Aalto Student Essi Porkka was awarded for her Master’s Thesis in ‘The Future of Work’ thesis contest.

Work, working life, and the labour market are changing rapidly in Finland in the 2010s. Adecco Finland organized ‘The Future of Work’ thesis contest in the fall of 2017. The contest looked for theses that develop working life towards a better future.

‘Many companies find it difficult to adapt to the changes in work life, which is why my objective was to offer concrete advice on how companies can drive and manage the change more effectively’, says Aalto MIB and CEMS student Essi Porkka, the winner of the contest.

In addition to a scholarship, Porkka was invited to Adecco Finland’s headquarters to present the results. Her thesis focuses on management innovation adoption in the light of digitalization.

Reinventing people management

As work becomes less bound to time, place, and long employment relationships, innovative management practices are necessary for maintaining competitiveness. Porkka looked at eight different case organisations, and how they manage these changes.

She identified factors that influence the adoption of management innovations and how organizations actively facilitate the adoption process.

‘Structural changes, such as self-managed teams and bringing down hierarchical structures, are clearly some of the major trends among Finnish companies – and possible to adopt also in larger, more traditional organizations’, Porkka says.

According to her, the role of managers is crucial in making the adoption process successful. Employee involvement, support and coaching, communication and dialogue, recruitment, and use of digitalization appear to be of high significance.

The importance of managers is even greater in traditional organisations, where it may be more difficult to implement radical changes in management practices, processes, and structures.

Adecco Finland found Porkka’s work to be encouraging for companies that are facing the pressure of digitalisation and quick changes in work life: It shows that it is possible to maintain control over the future if the change is planned carefully and employees are involved in the implementation of new practices.

Essi Porkka’s thesis was also one the three finalists in Henry's HR Thesis of the Year 2017 competition.

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