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Work – where you are or what you do?

August 4, 2011 - 6 Comments

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)?

To continue the conversation follow the Cisco Government team on twitter CiscoGovt or visit the Cisco Public Sector Customer Connection Community.

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  1. Nice topic. I think that in some areas we are going to become more and more mobile, and even a park we'll become our office. However, there are other departments which will be obliged to be more static. As I see it I like going to the office, make me focus more, but still i like to have the possibility to work from wherever i am.

    • Dan, your response got me thinking: "... and even a park will become our office"... gives a whole new meaning to "meetingplace."

  2. true flex time is more fun than fixed time.. it happened to our company also.. before we have a fixed time of 8hr + 1 for break. but since we've seen that the productivity is not that good enough, we conduct an experiment of Flex Time.. time to time we check the progress then we are very happy to see the result. the employee's productivity increases and our office became a happy place to work with. we can see the happy and highly motivated worker everyday.

    • George, happy to hear your company's Flex Time policy is reaping positive results... for the workforce and the business! Do you have ROI data you can share?

  3. this is a pretty thought provoking post. Most people certainly think of work as a "place" and not "what they do". After reading this post I definitely have a new point of view. I have an Ipad and an Iphone and when I am not in my office, I am still working from those two devices. Emails get responded to at all hours. I have an App on the Ipad that allows me to log into my computer at the office and access everything as if i were sitting at my desk. Over time, i will certainly be doing more work from home and the car and wherever I am at that exact moment. I will not be limited to working from my office. Thanks for the post!

    • Jason, thank you for your comment. So glad the topic has you thinking differently about "work" and how location does not define what we do.