Social Enterprise

The Weekly Round-Up: Smartphones and dumb cases on police Twitter

Plus tips on keeping things together when your staff seem a little remote...

The landscape of the modern workplace is very different from just a few years ago. Soon it will be an entirely different country.

These days you can use smarter and smarter mobile devices instead of desktop computers, keep up with your clients on Twitter, and attend meetings just wearing a pair of pants - only if you're on a conference call when working from home, of course - the Round-Up doesn't recommend trying this approach in the office.

If you think that's a lot of change in corporate culture to cope with over a short period, imagine what's coming up in a couple of years' time. Luckily, silicon.com polished its crystal ball this week, peered into it and came back with five tips on how to manage the team of the future.

The first tip is to try and spend as little time as possible with your team. In fact, if you never see them at all, that's not a problem. Managers are already coming to terms with remote workers. That's people working remotely, not the ones with the 1,000-yard stare and the dribble stains on their collars.

Remote working will becoming increasingly popular in the future and while out-of-sight, out-of-mind causes the crushingly old-school traditional office-based manager heart palpitations, it shouldn't worry the managers of the future.

As Mariel Hemingway told her highly improbable lover, Woody Allen, in Manhattan: "You've got to have a little faith in people." Don't hassle remote workers - trust them to do what you've asked. Of course, it makes it easier if you ensure what you've asked is so simple a child could understand it. Make instructions and requests as clear as possible to avoid misinterpretation due lack of physical presence.

Thirdly, let them lark about to their heart's content. Or rather, let them have the freedom to experiment with new technology to see if they can make it work to the organisation's benefit. After all, Google takes this approach through its 20 per cent free time rule for employees, and the company doesn't seem to be doing too badly for itself.

Fourthly, take a softly, softly, catchy monkey approach to staff engagement by encouraging people to contribute ideas rather than dictating to them.

Your employees are lovely little fluffy snowflakes literally bursting with ideas. Your role is to nurture these ideas and if the idea is impressive enough, the Round-Up suggests taking complete credit for it.

Finally, note that with the increasing dissolution of the work-home divide - thanks to socially inclusive communications technologies, smarter phones and mobile devices - your little snowflakes can turn in longer and longer hours, the lucky devils.

That is just the tip of the future-working iceberg. Many more tips lie beneath the cold, watery surface.

Dive in, the water's lovely...

Of course, in the office of the future, social media tech will be everywhere and there'll be no escaping its role in the corporate world.

Today, however, it's an altogether different story for some small businesses. While social media is widely used by small businesses, most find it largely useless.

While 52 per cent of smaller firms admitted they use social media sites, over a half of those that do said they felt such sites are of little or no use.

According to the results of a survey of 5,800 small businesses published this week, some 21 per cent described sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn as "not useful" while another six per cent described them as "useless".

The Round-Up is aghast. Presumably small businesses are immune to the joy of learning who's had what for breakfast in fewer than 140 characters or indeed have yet to sign up to silicon.com's smorgasbord of tasty social media options. You can follow silicon.com on Twitter, or you can find us on Facebook, and for good measure, join our LinkedIn group.

Still, the Forum of Private Business reckons small firms should be throwing themselves into the loving arms of social media.

And given these straitened economic times, there's also the added benefit for small businesses that most forays into social media don't cost a bean, whether they turn out to be useless or not.

Spending nothing on useless technology? The Round-Up takes its hat off to small businesses. By the looks of it, they've got this IT budget thing cracked...

Finally this week, we dive once again into the world of the social web and an ambitious experiment by the Greater Manchester Police (GMP).

The GMP had decided to give the world an insight into its daily routine by getting one of its press officers to spend a day tweeting details of every incident it deals with over the 24-hour period.

There have been quite a few tweets.

GMP staff have been posting updates on three GMP feeds until early Friday morning. In the 12 hours Between 0500 BST and 1700 BST its officers had arrested 217 people of whom 119 remained in custody on Thursday evening.

While the Twitter experiment demonstrates quite neatly how essential the police are, the Round-Up can't but feel that the city's tourist authority isn't looking on it too fondly, with the tweets reporting endless thefts, acts of vandalism and other more petty crimes.

They also reveal the weirder side of police work.

Take Call 384, for example: "Report of man holding baby over bridge - police immediately attended and it was man carrying dog that doesn't like bridges".

Call 3026: "Suspicious man wearing cape in Bolton - police attended and no sign of man."

Call 849: "Attempted theft of a caravan, could have happened anytime in the past two weeks, Rochdale."

You can read hundreds more by following the hashtag #gmp24 on your Twitter client of choice.

Manchester, city of burglars, caravan thieves and elusive cape-wearers - or at least mad for IT...

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