Predicting the future is never an exact science. Remember the robot that was going to take care of all your housework? If you’re over 30, you’ll probably have vague recollections of this being a standard prediction – along with a 3-day week and flying cars. It never quite happened though, did it?
The jury’s still out on the supposed brave new world of working from home …
Teleworking: The Promise
Fast forward to the early 2000s. Email had been with us in a big way for at least a decade; wireless connectivity had progressed to the stage that it was actually becoming reliable, and connecting a remote PC or laptop to the office network had become routine. By 2005, The Independent was reporting research from a consumer think-tank, The Future Foundation, which suggested that by 2020, working from home will be the norm rather than the exception. The report author was quoted as saying, “The question by then will not be who sometimes works at home but who doesn’t“.
The Reality In 2013 …
And then came something of a backlash. So far as the ‘tech’ side of things goes, there’s nothing stopping us from bypassing the daily commute altogether. So you need to attend that morning planning meeting? Simply turn on Skype. The feeling in some quarters though, is that there’s ‘something not quite right’ about avoiding the traditional 9 to 5 at your assigned desk.
During the Olympics, Boris Johnson rejected suggestions that people should stay away from the office for the duration of the games; suggesting that working from home was an essentially an excuse to sit around gorging on cheese.
Moving on to February of this year and new Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer was busy implementing a ban on home working. The reason? Well, Yahoo! seems in need of a few good ideas if it’s ever going to replicate its late ‘90s success – and according to Mayer, what the company was missing were the impromptu hallway hub and cafeteria meetings where those Yahoo! Eureka! moments are most likely to occur (or so the theory goes). Google isn’t hot on the idea of home working either.
Chief Financial Officer Patrick Pichette commented that he was frequently asked how many people telecommute at Google. “And our answer is: ‘As few as possible’” said Pichette.
There are still some big name fans of teleworking though. Richard Branson (who spends a lot of time working from his personal Caribbean island) was one of the first people to respond to the Mayer announcement – calling it a backwards step in an age when remote working is easier and more effective as ever.
There’s little doubt that there’ll be a growth in home working over the next few years. But if even the big tech innovation names are against it, what hope is there for teleworking becoming the norm across the board?
Maybe the idea of going to work is so ingrained that it will take longer than we thought before people who work from home are not seen as shirkers rather than workers.
Does Working From Home Work In A Business Management Career?
There are very few of us who haven’t at least contemplated the idea of working from home – especially as winter draws closer and it’s still dark as we get up to face a commute to the office. When you can study management so successfully from home, can you actually perform as a manager without going into the office? Let’s say you’ve just got a Certificate in Management and Leadership under your belt and you’ve been ‘moved upstairs’ into a managerial role. Is a teleworking role a viable option?
Teleworking: The Smartest Possible Use Of Your Time?
Teleworking is very often bound up into the idea of flexible working. In the U.K anyone can at least ask for flexible working arrangements. What’s more, if you’ve got family care commitments, your employer is under a duty to at least consider your request.
Even without specific commitments outside the office, it dawns on a lot of managers just how much time they’re wasting on the daily commute. After all, time-management skills are vital to business management success, which is why they are a key feature of professional courses such as the online Diploma in Management and Leadership. Surely, by asking to work from home, you’re demonstrating initiative and commitment? What’s more, some research suggests home workers put in more hours than they would if they were based solely in the office: the exact opposite of a “skiver’s charter”!
The Yahoo! ‘creative hub’ argument
Where do great ideas come from? Is it through a “textbook” brainstorming session (that you could easily attend via remote working) or is it a series of chance remarks at the water cooler? Regardless of what Google and Yahoo execs would have us believe, if anyone really had the answer to this question, we’d have definitely heard it by now!
Can You Manage Via Skype?
It’s all about effective communication. Management Diploma students spend a lot of time picking up key skills in this area. Say you’ve got a pivotal project meeting. If you usually work from home, you’re probably going to want to go into the office to attend in person (especially if the client’s going to be there). Decisions are reached and everyone’s clear about their objectives (on paper at least). So far, so good. But what did so-and-so really think? If you’re out of the office most of the time, are you failing to pick up on snags at the earliest possible stage?
Are Google hangouts a replacement for the conference room?
Nowadays, video conferencing is available to everyone. Google hangouts mean that you can not only be there in the room, but you can publicise your work environments by broadcasting them live on YouTube! So how long will it be before a standard way of working will be to invite clients to a Google hangout or Skype call?
Can Teleworking Stunt Your Career Growth?
The jury’s still out on this one. However, some research from the University of California and London Business School from 2012 suggested that showing your face, or “passive face time” is what you need to maximise your chances of promotion.