First there was telecommuting. Then there was telework. Now telework is workshifting. WORKshift, an organization “dedicated to promoting, educating and accelerating the adoption of flexible work programs that allow companies across Canada,” explains:
WORKshift is more than just a telework program.
It’s a flexible work program that focuses on results, not the hours an employee sits at their desk.
When many people hear about flexible work programs, they think telecommuting. They think of people sitting at home in their bunny slippers with a laptop 5 days a week.
No longer does flexible mean telecommuting. WORKshift is a management practice that gives employees “permission” to work where and when they are most effective. Often this means someone is working from homes, an airport or a coffee shop just one or 2 days a week.
It’s not about reinventing your business – it’s about accepting that the change has already happened, and understanding how our companies, cities and families can benefit from it.
Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson, innovators of the Results Only Work Environment (ROWE) management philosophy that places the management emphasis where it properly should be — on the work and not the workers — might be wincing as they read the above description. Ressler and Thompson — the kick ass, no bullshit Thelma and Louise pair challenging the rationale and relevance of the traditional human resources-based management model in the digital age – might object to the use of what they term the new F-word: flexibility.
In the context of “workplace flexibility,” flexibility implies adjusting the outmoded 8-5, Monday through Friday, office attendance paradigm to accommodate people’s needs and not the work that needs to be done. To hell with adjusting that model, Ressler and Thomson argue. It’s time to junk it as an obsolete, pre-Internet, Industrial Age throwback grossly inappropriate to a time when knowledge work can be done most anytime and anyplace.
Their point is well taken and shows the importance of keeping the focus on the work and not who is shifting it to when and wherever productivity can be had. WORKshift does that by defining workshifting as a “flexible work program that focuses on results.”
Unlike “telecommuting” where the worker – the commuter – is the focus, in workshifting the work is what’s important. WORKshift also emphasizes work by capitalizing the word in its organizational name. Gone is the “tele” prefix of telework that to the listener connotes and harkens back to its Industrial Age predecessor “telecommuting.”
Words are very important to perception and practice. WORKshift provides the critical distinction that makes workshifting quite compatible with ROWE. It’s a management model for our time, one that is clearly ready for export beyond Canada in an increasingly information-based global economy.