Strategic Futurists; Value Systems Specialists

Events

Unlocking the promise of 'teleworking'

Wednesday 20 November 2013

One of the great things about technology (especially of the instantaneous 'social' kind) is the ability to attend a conference without leaving your office. Which is a salient point because yesterday I followed a number of the presentations looking at the idea of tele-working or remote workers, and did so by following the tweets of people in the room at the time. I have an interest in this concept and those of you who were at the RSCA conference in Canberra in 2007 would have seen me speak about the challenges that work-forces face, and why we were yet to capture the gains possible through teleworking. Six years on, and we're still yet to do so - why?

As I tweeted in reply to the observations being made, the reality is that we do not yet trust the idea of 'digital'. Not those who use it, those who manage those who use it. Back in 2007 I suggested that managers still rely on staring at the back of people's heads as a form of judgment criteria of workplace value and output. It's a fundamentally flawed approach built on the earliest factory model established by the Wedgewood's pottery factory in the 1760s and is till relevant today.

A couple of posts down from this one I've provided an overview of the V21 conference I spoke at in October. The link to my presentation 'From Clever to Wise' is also on paragraph two of that overview and it shows that we have NOT evolved much from the people management model of the 1760's. In fact, the office layout and functional design looks pretty much the same. Simply put, despite the evolution of technology, we have not evolved the maturity of management thinking to match it. We are trapped by 'Hairy Eyeballs Management'  which insists people be 'present' so that they can be 'judged' or 'over-seen'.

This barrier is the fundamental anchor that delays organisations from tapping into the benfits that teleworking proffers. The remote workforce really can work. And there's no 'either / or' in this issue. Some workers will be well suited to office only, some to remote only and the vast majority will prefer a combination of both. But until Management can mature and give TRUST to the workforce, we'll continue to drag people into offices via commutes of multiple hours each day for No productivity benefit either side of departure or arrival.

Research shows that the benefits of teleworking can be enourmous to both workforce and organisation. But lack of trust and a model beholden to the rats in a maze overseer approach holds us back.


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