It is the goal of many people to work from home (aka telecommuting), while others revel in the opportunity to interact face-to-face. Both ways of working have their benefits, and both have their drawbacks.
In the blog post, There's no such thing as a 'remote' employee, Mike Elgan discusses this trend in relation to the increasing demand from employees to have flexibility to work outside of an office, especially the Millenials. Mike suggest that "Millennial job-hopping is misunderstood as being a function of company disloyalty, impatience or a fickle attitude toward career. But that misses the mark. The attitude is an inevitable outcome of the mobile revolution" (Elgan, 2017, source). He goes on to say that:
Mobility blurs the line between work time and personal time.
With each passing year, employees increase their boldness in saying: "Give me a better work environment or I'll find an employer who will."
- People work during their "time off" and do personal tasks and communication while "at work." Work hours and non-work hours blend together into a totality of one's whole life.
- Mobile devices and the world of social apps (social networks and messaging, mostly) means that the people you're with in the room aren't the only people you're "with." Family friends and non-present co-workers are always "right there," accessible through any communications medium.
- Smartphone cameras and the "selfie industrial complex" have diminished the worth of material possessions while boosting the value of life experiences. As people pursue better experiences in life, bad experiences and environments at work become increasingly unacceptable.
(Elgan, 2017, source)
The implications for employees are many, and raises questions around how to grow a company culture, develop teams, and collaborate - as well as around aspects such as security.
However, as Mike states, most organisations are global on some level. As such, the "concept of 'remote' makes no sense. When the whole world is connected, only astronauts are 'remote workers'." (Elgan, 2017, source). Also, to "assume the primacy of face-to-face interaction between colleagues is to fail to provide collaborative tools to connect employees in offices down the hall, on a different floor, at another office or on the other side of the world" (Elgan, 2017, source). I would add that these tools are social, protocol, and process focussed, not only technical.
In the light of Mike's points, the face-to-face / working from home dichotomy is at best unhelpful. Rather it's "best to ...create the work spaces and infrastructure that allow both deep, solitary, focused work, and collaboration" (Elgan, 2017, source). As a result the telecommuter becomes 'an employee' who is not defined by their place of work, By providing real choice organisations are more likely to retain their employees, many of whom feel that it "is less about salary and more about the lifestyle they have while at work and at home" (Elgan, 2017, source).
What are your thoughts? What are your experiences of working from home? Please share :)
Image: Working lunch 2, Darwin 2009. CC ( BY NC ND ) licensed Flickr image by hazelowendmc: https://flic.kr/p/6CUKXB
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