The Telework Revolution
Cisco Australia’s general manager of government affairs and policy Tim Fawcett recently spoke at a leading telecom conference, CommsDay Melbourne Congress, on the topic of teleworking. Here are some of the key points Tim addressed in his presentation.
As the momentum builds for Australia’s National Telework Week from 12-16 November 2012 it is clear that a revolutionary shift is taking off in the way we are working now and will be in the future.
The word ‘revolution’ gets used a lot in the information and technology sector – sometimes too often. But in the context of a shifting global economic environment, massive uptake of mobile devices by consumers and the rapidly emerging demands of workers to use their own device of choice as part of their workday routine, something revolutionary IS happening.
In global economic terms, there is a major shift occurring where the share of global GDP is rapidly shifting eastward. An Australian Treasury discussion paper contains a graph which demonstrates the speed and size of this shift. One of the statistics states that by 2020, the GDP of China will be bigger than the United States, creating geopolitical and economic tensions that the USA – and the rest of the western world – has not had to contemplate for over 100 years.
The Cisco Visual Networking Index also shows revolutionary uptake of Internet connected devices by Australians (142 million by 2016) and some 23 million internet users by 2016. That’s more than the current population! The huge increase in data flowing across mobile networks reflects Australians’ demand to be connected to networks where they want, when they want.
Combine this with evidence that points to an emerging younger workforce which puts a monetary value on the ability to telework productively outside the office and you start to build a picture of a workplace revolution.
Of course, revolutions are about big changes designed to lead to a better society or a better life. I often hear teleworkers talk about being able to work productively and flexibly outside the office as if teleworking delivered some sort of utopia, where their lives are fulfilled and complete partly because of the way they can arrange their work and family responsibilities.
This teleworking utopia reminds me of a quote from university economics days about a utopian society that ‘…makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticise after dinner, just as I have a mind…’
Surprisingly for some, that quote was something written by the man voted in a 1999 BBC poll as the most influential person of the 19th century, Karl Marx, in German Ideology (1845).
The concept that Marx was espousing was that of economic and social individual freedom and choice for workers not only in where they work but the type of work they do. Telework has the potential to deliver that freedom for knowledge based workers that will appeal to Australians and see them embrace teleworking, allowing the government to meet its goal of doubling the number of Teleworkers by the year 2020 to 12 per cent or over one million Australian workers, as stated in the National Digital Economy Strategy.
While we have not reached the sort of utopian society that Marx envisioned 167 years ago, when I talk to people about telework the consistent theme is how telework helps them to better manage their work and family commitments.
We’re keen to hear about how you work and how you would like to work, so come and check out theCisco Work Your Way website, keep an eye out for our series of blog posts and follow the Cisco ANZ Twitter feed (@CiscoANZ, #telework) to keep up to date with our exploration of the possibilities, obstacles and opportunities that Teleworking will present.
Do you think that Telework is a revolution? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.