Work – where you are or what you do?
As someone who has been in the technology industry for more than 20 years; “work is what I do. Not a place.” I have been fortunate to be employed by organizations that have Telework and Mobile Workforce policies and that understand the have benefits of enabling me to work from just about any location (and at any time) you can imagine. As an employee this flexibility has given me much greater satisfaction in both my professional and personal lives. As organizations, my employers have seen much higher productivity and greater employee retention – during that 20+ years in technology, I’ve had exactly two employers!
In a recent blog I read, “Are We Farmers, Factory Workers, or Ideas People?” Josh Sawislak suggests telework is leading us to rethink “work.” From traditional work arrangements to how we will work in the future. As a working mother of two very active school age children I work from multiple locations – my corporate office, a drop-in center, my home office, or even Starbucks – as long as I produce the expected results (work). And now with the explosion of tablets, video, IM and other technology advancements, my interactions at work couldn’t be better! I am fostering strong business relationships regardless of time or location, not to mention contributing to reduced green house gas emissions, wear and tear on public transportation and roadways that translates to less maintenance and less of a burden on taxpayers.
So it got me thinking, how many other people are starting to expect this as normal and how is that going to change the way employers treat their employees? What impacts will this have on governments and the citizens they serve? Collectively embracing telework means that we have lighter traffic, even when we do come into the office. The US Federal Government is beginning to embrace the idea that “work is what you do,” with the passage of “The Telework Enhancement Act of 2010.” The City of Maastricht, Netherlands deployed flexible work arrangements, promoting the idea “work is what you do” and they are seeing productivity gains.
So how do you define work? Will traditional work arrangements of ‘butts in seats” continue to be the norm or should government agencies embrace technology that makes works something you do (not a place you are)?