Written by Hewitt Tomlin, guest blogger for the Business Relocation Resource Center.
Today, telecommuting is not only feasible, but some would even argue that it is necessary to telecommute in order to stay competitive in this day and age. One of these people is Terri Maxwell who, in her new book, cites many reasons for the increasingly changing workplace and claims that change is the necessary and risk-averse strategy to achieving workplace success.
Where Are We Now?
The factors that determine a productive workplace evolve with generational change. Demographic data shows that within the next 10 years, Generation Y, the notoriously tech-savvy generation of the “Information Age,” will make up almost half of the entire workforce in the U.S.
These young workers tend to value certain elements of their career differently than their older peers and even tend to be more demanding. Mercer Research concluded in 2011 that Millennial employees today were 50% more likely to leave their jobs because they do not believe it is a “sound place to work.” However, workplace dissatisfaction is not a just a generational malaise.
Evidence – provided by technology – tells us that the workplace is currently not optimal. In fact, Gensler’s 2013 Workplace Survey found that only 1 in 4 U.S. workers are in their optimal work setting. Even more, 2/3 of Americans claim they would like to improve their workplace.
The Workplace is Changing
Maxwell cites a few things that she says is contributing the most to an increasingly changing office:
- Workflows have been fractionalized into smaller, more specialized tasks that require fewer full-time resources needed onsite to work with others.
- Cloud technology has detached workers from company networks and, therefore, the cubicles. Employees can access and manage information from anywhere securely because of innovations in cloud storage.
- Lastly, talent no longer has geographical boundaries. The first two points, specialization and cloud computing, have created employer drive to access talent anywhere in the world
Choice means Productivity
The combination of a generational change coupled with a current negative sentiment towards the workplace doesn’t mean that productivity is suffering. However, it does mean that there is room for improvement in the workplace. So what can a company do to improve the quality of its employees’ work?
Terri Maxwell says that happy employees are productive employees and employees are happier when they have choices. Where to work is a major choice that resonates for Gen Y employees. In many ways, the company of the future is willing to accommodate employee choice as to make them as productive as possible.
Additionally, Gensler’s 2013 Workplace Survey also concluded “choice drives performance and innovation.” In fact, the survey showed that employees even tended to return to the office more often when given the choice of where to work!
A Successful Telecommuting Strategy
Implementing a successful telecommuting strategy will involve following some basic principles – one of which is to hire a workforce that is conducive to working virtually. These individuals must have above-average self motivation and time-management skills. For existing employees, remember that self-management skills can be taught. Therefore, it would be wise to devote strong training efforts to teach these skills and training should directly instruct peer-to-peer management to encourage collaboration using cloud-based tools to handle projects.
Lastly, the optimally productive workplace requires new management and leadership techniques – the old methods cannot apply in the virtual workplace. The increased emphasis on collaboration, not direct oversight, is the key to successful workflow management in a virtual world.
Hewitt Tomlin is in charge of marketing, sales and public relations at Roomtag. Roomtag is a software and services company that produces enterprise applications for organizations to better understand and shift their real estate and asset cost curves. The patent-pending software is uniquely suited for daily operational tasks and important decision-making.