Images of Industrial Age Office Work: Clock Watcher

Clock Watcher 16" X 20" acrylic Copyright © 2013 by Nathan Myhre

Clock Watcher 16″ X 20″ acrylic
Copyright © 2013 by Nathan Myhre

A couple of months ago, I mentioned that Nathan Myhre would be contributing art that represents the life of the average Industrial Age knowledge worker. I say “Industrial Age” even when it comes to post-Industrial parts of the world because we’re still bidding a long and difficult farewell to the Industrial Age work-style with most knowledge workers coming, going, and working essentially the same work-shift (9-to-5). What’s the alternative? Harness and utilize today’s technology to give workers more control over where and when they work as well as to work more productively. Continue reading

Announcement: Source Materials List & Upcoming Features

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Hip (Photo credit: wasoxygen)

This is a general announcement to notify readers that a comprehensive list of links to research studies, scholarly articles, white papers, and various documents covering on this blog is now available. As stated on the Source Materials page, I will continue to update this list as I find more material. So check back if you don’t find what you’re looking for or feel free to make requests and I will see what I can find.

It’s proven tougher for me to post more regularly as I’m in the midst of a work-life transition, however I’ve arranged to feature an artist’s rendition of the Industrial Age office work lifestyle as well as social commentary that revolves around associated problems (e.g., stress, boredom, etc.). Continue reading

Why Managing Sucks and How to Fix it

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

Towards Recognition of Individual Differences and a Less Standardized Work World

“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 End of Organizations as We Know Them

Nanyangosaurus is the name given to a genus of...

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

A Less Mentioned Benefit of Telework: Why Pet Owners & Animal Lovers Should Be All Over This

There are a number of benefits to teleworking that may already be familiar to you because they are reiterated time and time again. However, I will quickly summarize them for those who are new to this subject matter:

For employees who can telework and work well this way:

  • Can save thousands of dollars annually that would otherwise go towards gas and office clothes
  • Improves work-life balance by freeing up 1-2 hours (or more for those who commute even further) so that employees have the option to get right to work instead of wasting time in rush hour traffic as well as being able to get necessary errands done without a hassle (e.g., picking up kids from daycare/school)
  • Under a Results Only Work Environment (ROWE) where work can be done anywhere, anytime as long as the work is done on time, employees can lead a healthier lifestyle by not having to stay sedentary for 8-10 hour time blocks (includes commute time).

For employers:

  • Reduces real estate costs (for the physical space itself as well as additional costs of maintenance and utilities)
  • A more decentralized workforce allows business to continue during emergencies such as natural disasters, terrorist attacks, etc.
  • Employees who are well-suited to telework are more engaged and productive working from wherever they want, instead of at the office, which adds to the bottom line
  • When recruiting, employers can hire the best people for the job regardless of their geographic location
  • Having this option for employees enjoy more freedom and flexibility at work improves recruitment and retention, reducing the cost of turnover

For environmental conditions:

  • Less congestion for those who must travel to work as well as reduces wear and tear on deteriorating freeway infrastructure from having so many people utlizing it during rush hour
  • Although there’s some debate over whether or not teleworking employees make up for not having to commute to an office by driving elsewhere, a reduced need to build additional office building space and expand freeways does mean a decreased carbon footprint
  • The more we can curtail the growth of our freeways and buildings as our population grows, the more space we leave for wildlife Continue reading

Mass Career Customization: Aligning The Workplace With Today’s Nontraditional Workforce

Before delving into Mass Career Customization, I’d like to address a paper titled The Hidden Work In Virtual Work (click to download). It describes the high personal costs some remote workers have borne while trying to achieve work-life balance and maintain professional connections. I imagine that this paper can scare many away from the prospect of telework. However, note the limitations of this study. Like any good researcher, Heimrich Schwartz describes the methodology for collecting data. This study was based on information gathered from twenty-three informants who were recruited from the researchers’ social network. Therefore, like most qualitative studies, this study has a low sample size. Furthermore, participants were not randomly selected. Having drawn from their own personal network, participants are more likely to share similarities than if drawn from a pool that represents all remote workers. It is quite possible that their recruitment method did not capture the experiences of successful remote workers who thrive under this working condition. Continue reading