Do-It-Yourself (DIY) is trending, whether in hardware stores or companies. People discover their potential to start self-directed projects, from editing films to making marketing material or creating online courses. DIY empowers employees and involves them deeply into company processes. Helpful for this development is the rise of online tools that provide infrastructure and sharing options.
Why is DIY so popular? You might seek the answer within private craftwork where people build their own furniture or jewelry, but DIY is actually far more widespread than that and deserves to be considered as a general trend.
Admittedly, most creative work so far takes place at home, to compensate for a dull or stressed work routine. However, working habits and demands are changing: especially young generations are asking for more meaning, flexibility and involvement. The more they are able to fulfill those demands at work, the more satisfied, motivated and likely to stay they are. It hence becomes a necessity for companies to give room for projects that involve and empower employees. DIY fits into this development as it empowers people and gives them room to explore and enhance their own skills.
Employees willing to invest time and energy into projects – this is something companies should embrace! Why is there still a reluctance to hand over single projects such as the creation of a flyer or a tutorial? Because company leaders tend to think that best products are achieved when produced by “professionals”, often external agencies that claim exact knowledge and expertise. There is no reason however not to let an internal employee be the professional.
First of all, an internal employee has the knowledge about products and company context. He/she can assess timing and consult colleagues concerned with the topic of interest. He/she can implement changes quickly and keep the process up-to-date. Secondly, an internal employee’s ability to work professionally on a self-directed project depends largely on the right tools and infrastructure, more than on many years of experience. The later one can be fooled, considering how fast technology and connected practices have changed in recent years.
A good tool provides the grounds for effective work and accurate products. But it is worth nothing if the user does not know how to handle it. What an inexperienced user needs is therefore an intuitive tool that guides through a creative process. Let’s take an example here: An employee wants to create a web page about a product extension but has no HTML knowledge. We would then use a platform that lets him build web content in a WYSIWIG editor (What-you-see-is-what-you-get).
It is mostly website building that comes into mind quickly when thinking about DIY opportunities in company contexts. But there are millions of other possibilities where online tools or platforms come into play and help employees create material themselves. This could be a flyer, created with a way less complicated tool than well-known software would provide. Or an online magazine, where you’d expect Flash or HTML5 knowledge to be needed. The list goes on and even involves the creation of courses and tutorials, where company or product knowledge can be transferred, directly from one employee to the other. Online tools offer an easy approach to expectedly complicated issues and empower employees to get started themselves.
DIY often gets mistaken as a solitary approach: one person handling the entire process from concept to finishing. However, this is neither necessary nor effective. DIY projects should involve several people that support each other in ideas, feedback and approval.
Luckily, most online tools have been developed for this purpose and support access and collaboration by several users. Some tools have built-in feedback or revision features or offer roles for different levels of responsibility. What’s important for collaboration in any case is the flexibility to access content without being bound to certain devices, timeframes or locations, like it is often the case with installed software. Cloud-based software has the advantage of being accessible to anyone with an internet connection and offers a low-level entry to users who are less deeply involved with the project. After all, who likes to install software or load each other’s material when merely a second opinion is needed?
Online tools have developed to an enormous extent over the last years, but we’re far from an end. Countless technical inventions and improvements are awaiting us. What we need however is a shift in mind that enables people to make full use of the possibilities given.
This shift in mind has to come with a new company culture that puts innovation, flexibility and collaboration first. Traditions and long established expertise are not redundant, but company leaders should carefully reinvestigate their benefit and need. We’ve seen this development in many examples like the introduction of 3D printing, which counts as cornerstone for DIY in companies. But other than 3D printers, online tools come with extremely low investment costs and enable large groups to work (collaboratively) on creative projects. Their easiness to “just get started” and flexibility to be used in any given moment or location make them a great example of a rising DIY company culture and will hold some great surprises of excellent employee’s work and creativity. Let the future come!