On the Evolution of Work Systems in the Digital Economy
5 Factors That Determine How Innovations Gain Adoption
One question telework advocates often entertain but can’t definitively answer is, “When will working anywhere and anytime gain more widespread acceptance?” Having researched this topic extensively, I’ve seen plenty of predictions that didn’t come to pass. Moreover, many are scratching their heads asking questions along the lines of, “Why hasn’t this happened already? We had the technological capability back in…” Yes, to a great extent, we are still working like it’s 1980. Furthermore, others muse that it will take a disaster of epic proportions (e.g., major natural disaster, pandemic, etc.) for the powers that be to change the way we work.
We know that new ideas and situations are scary to many, however I wanted to go beyond the scariness factor. Delving into factors that come into play with regard to coming up with a good, educated guess only opened up more issues to think about. Upon researching why it’s so difficult to predict if and when innovations gain acceptance, I came upon this wonderful explanation of factors which provided much fodder for thinking about the issue of resistance to telework. Excerpt:
…new ideas spread at speeds determined by psychology and sociology, not the abstract merits of those new ideas. This explains the mysteries of great innovations that fail and bad ideas that prevail; there are more significant factors than the ones inventors focus on. Technological prowess matters less than we think in the diffusion of innovation.
Rogers identifies five factors that define how quickly innovations spread; they belong in every innovator’s playbook. Roughly summarized and loosely interpreted, they include:
As mentioned, culture (which encompasses habits, beliefs, values, and lifestyles) has much to do with the potential for widespread acceptance of innovations. Although other important factors have been outlined as well, I’ve long believed that the next cohort of workers can very well be the ones who change everything. We will soon see, as the future unfolds, if we continue taking comfort in the predictability and routine offered by the prevalent work structure or not. Can you think of any other factors impacting widespread resistance and adoption? Do you have an educated guess as to when telework will enjoy mainstream acceptance?
- Teleworking to be the norm sooner than expected (shoretelsky.com)
- Remote working is the future of enterprise operations (shoretelsky.com)