By now many of you have heard the news about Yahoo’s CEO, Marissa Mayer, requiring all remote workers, regardless of where they live, to become onsite office workers or else quit. Even those who telecommute one or two days a week will no longer be able to do so. If you haven’t heard about this, here’s the story in a nutshell: Continue reading
Conventional wisdom posits that the needs of employees and their employer are at odds with each other, however this assumption is not necessarily true. A mutually symbiotic relationship granting employees freedom and flexibility while increasing engagement and, hence, productivity is achievable! Why Managing Sucks and How to Fix it: A Results-Only Guide to Taking Control of Work, Not People will force you to examine how you think about work as well as how we unknowingly support the current, conventional view of work through the establishment and use of flexible work arrangements. Conventional flexible work arrangements, by the way, can’t achieve what a results-only work environment (ROWE) can. Continue reading
Is it conceivable? Thinking of a way to reconstruct a society in which all the work is being performed by technology makes for an interesting thought exercise indeed. However, some thinkers (such as Andrew McAfee in his TED presentation – see my previous post “The Move Towards Self-Employment“) do see the possibility of a life where people are freed up to do other things. Can the currently assumed exchange between work and consumption be broken? Can the current unemployment situation be but a painful transition on to a life that is ultimately better? If money no longer mattered, perhaps some people would still be working and striving, but for different rewards (such as popularity or mere thrill of competition) as one of my conversation partners hypothesized. This possibility has optimists exclaiming “100% unemployment now!” However if we are striving towards this type of society, one of the worst risks we take is that our creations turn on us and we live out an event akin to “The Terminator: Rise of the Machines.” On the other hand, the way we currently work is already ruining people’s health and therefore slowly killing a good number of us so, if things keep going the way they are, the issue of our welfare becomes moot. Check out this interesting blog post, “Is 100% unemployment realistic, desirable, and statelessly doable?”
Originally posted on In defense of anagorism:
I find it hard to imagine a situation in which all real needs can be satisfied without any work being performed by people. I find it equally hard to believe that we will ever see full employment; understood to mean enough jobs to go around. Automation is real, and it’s inconceivable to me that the future needs all of us. Thus, as long as we are living under a market economy, some of us will be expendable.
Kurt Vonnegut envisioned this scenario in Player Piano, in which people not in-demand enough to merit a paying gig were relagated to the humiliation and indignity of the “Reeks and Wrecks,” a make-work program created to provide the illusion of being a contributing member of society, but the illusion wore thin rather quickly. In Player Piano, the “engineers and managers” are the last dominos left standing. As the nightmare is materializing right now, it looks more like nursing is the hardest occupation to automate.
It seems apparent that somewhere between the staffed economy and the unstaffed economy is the partially staffed economy. With substantiated complaints of “jobless recovery” for at least three economic cycles, I’d say we’re definitely in that middle zone right now. I think we are managing this transition in the least humane way imaginable. Instead of dividing the reduced workload, some can’t get out of mandatory overtime while others can’t get out of part time employment, and the market denies still others any employment at all.
“But not everyone can work this way!” is the most common, instinctive response I hear when talking about telework (especially in a full-time capacity) or results-only-work-environment (ROWE). Through everyday conversations I learn about instances where a full-time teleworker had a difficult time working this way because the presence of a spouse or child at home was distracting. In such a case, I point out that teleworkers need to establish ground rules before attempting to work from home. Moreover, one can still keep daycare arrangements, enlist the services of a sitter, or work at a co-working facility if one is available. On the other hand, I’ve experienced working with coworkers who’ve constantly distracted me with non-work related issues as well (e.g., peppering me with questions about whether or not I want to have children for the umpteenth time), so working in a centralized office isn’t a definite solution to distractions. My conversation partner also pointed out that I’m just lucky to be able to function more autonomously and not need so much social support at work and that this is the reason why the benefits of telework speak to me so much. She followed up by saying that other people are not this way, but I already know that. Continue reading
The possibility of employers checking potential hires’ social networking sites to attain a more in-depth look at what candidates might really be like is now common knowledge. Likewise, most people also know that employers are increasingly monitoring their computer activities at work and that this can come in the form of programs that track time spent on work related and non-work related software as well as the types of websites you visit. These have become part of a “new normal.” However, surveillance can be more invasive and extend beyond the workplace itself. It can come in the form of tracking, through GPS, where you drive the company vehicle or employers’ hiring private investigators to verify health or injury claims as the following video shows: Continue reading
My previous post, The Move Towards Self-Employment, touched upon the decline of organizations. This post will explain and expand upon this phenomenon. Just over a couple of weeks ago, I attended an educational forum on effective teleworking in Walnut Creek, California. James Hall,Vice President of Sales and Business Development at CoreLogic, was the guest presenter. He works virtually and mentioned that meeting face-to-face with employees about once a quarter worked for him. Thus, he extolled the strengths of the virtual organization in stating that organizations that don’t work this way will be left behind.
This isn’t the first time I’ve heard this message as several telework authors I’ve come across have presaged this as well. For instance, William A. Draves and Julie Coates, authors Nine Shift: Work, Life, and Education in the 21st Century, noted that the sign of a powerful organization will no longer be represented by a tall, beautiful building but by how geographically and/or temporally dispersed it is. (You may read more about Nine Shift here.) Continue reading
Nowadays you don’t have to search very hard to find well-respected thinkers forecasting the decline of traditional employment and a corresponding rise in self-employment. Daniel Pink, author of Free Agent Nation: The Future of Working For Yourself, had been tracking the decreasing average “half-life” of organizations well before this book was published in 2001. During his time as former speechwriter for Al Gore, he was one of the first to see the information that the Bureau of Labor Statistics churned out on a weekly basis. The relationship between organizations and employees is changing thanks to technological advancement and, in particular, the Internet. Pink foresees a future in which a great proportion of the population will be working as contractors, getting together and working on one project, dispersing when the project ends, then getting together with a different group to work on another project in the fashion of film crews. Here is Daniel Pink discussing this scenario in the following video: Continue reading
An issue recently came up with regard to describing oneself as an “independent thinker” on one’s resumé. One of my contacts in Human Resources advised me that this is generally construed as someone who doesn’t follow directions or is resistant to feedback from a supervisor. (I’m guessing that synonyms such as “autonomous” aren’t any better.) However, wherever I look, I see organizations that are interested in innovation as a matter of survival in today’s hyper-competitive world. Hence, I also keep seeing demand for workers who can contribute a fresh outlook and think creatively. Continue reading
Still not convinced that there is a pretending-to-work phenomenon? To follow-up on my previous post, They need to see you there to know that you are working… Not!, this post explores answers to who is likely to pretend to work and why. After digging deeper on the Internet for more information on this topic, I discovered a unique coaching service catering to employees at the website Looking Busy: 50 Ways to Look Busy at Work Even When You’re Not.
According to this website, Looking Busy coach, Jay Schorr has over 15 years of experience looking busy at work and is in demand by both employees interested in learning how to look busy and by managers interested in identifying “looking busy” behavior. Now curious, I emailed him to inquire if he is currently coaching and asked how he came to the realization that his service would be helpful to many people. The answer is, yes, he is currently coaching. Moreover, Jay Schorr’s response addresses why it behooves employees to act busy: Continue reading