JOBS / #Telework / Reversing Trends? Bes

JOBS / #Telework / Reversing Trends? Best Buy calls it quit on ‘flexible work’ …

Best Buy has become the second major employer within the last week to throw its telework/telecommute employee program overboard.

I have several interpretations of what is happening.

#1 – This is not an indictment of telework/telecommute as a form of workplace participation. It is appropriate for some forms of work and not others.

#2 – Companies are getting leaner and meaner (hopefully ‘efficient’). These companies seem to believe that the ‘remotely connected workforce’ is disconnected from the reality of corporate culture (how we make money).

#3 – Organizations really can do much more these days with fewer people on the payroll.

When you are trying to do more with less it is hard to throw someone into the fight when they are not exactly there, physically present.

‘Hey you!’ has long been a useful policy in most industries and organizations: when something needs to get done then now is good … so who is available to get it done now?

A counterargument is that these organizations (Yahoo! and Best Buy) just need to manage their workforce better. I agree. However, I run a virtual company myself and have often found it difficult to get my remote telework/telecommute folks (12 out of 18) to appreciate the business challenges that we face: their life is usually a set of well defined tasks and ‘hey you!’ doesn’t work well at all.

Abandonment of the flexible workforce by two very large firms does not make a trend … but it should tell us something about where BIG business is going: doing more with less requires far more interaction than perhaps our current telework and telecommute approaches may be able to deliver when it comes to corporate teambuilding vice task teambuilding.

by Bill Golden

1 Comment

Filed under Misc, PW County / Virginia, US of America, Virginia / Region

One response to “JOBS / #Telework / Reversing Trends? Bes

  1. George S. Harris

    A lot of what I read says that while productivity may well increase, that may not be the case for innovation. People are social animals and Skype, Face Time and other forms of teleconferencing just doesn’t give people the same feeling as actually seeing and talking with people. You can read 50 or 100 e-mails from folks or you can interact personally with those same people. But they have to have the freedom to do this–not necessarily tied to a desk in a cubicle. Many Google and Apple folks actually work in company facilities but they have lots of perks (free meals, day care, gyms, laundry and dry cleaning) and, most of all, opportunities to interact with others. In some ways a total telework environment reminds me of some Orwellian future.

    But if telework is so great, does that mean that we don’t have to have Congress come to Washington? Can’t they just telework and cut down on the cost of maintaining the Capital Building on all that stuff? And the same could apply to state legislatures and perhaps even our own BOCS. How far can we take this? Perhaps most of the 25,000 people who work in the Pentagon could telework. Having worked there for a number of years, I can testify that a lot of what goes on is pushing papers around. That could be done electronically. What a savings there! And let’s not even consider schools, colleges and universities. Most all of the soft science programs could be done on line–no class rooms, fewer buildings, etc.

    Yes, telework can be helpful but it is not a panacea. Innovation is the lifeblood of successful business and telework does not foster innovation. Better, less expensive mass transit could do a lot to help congestion.

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