If we’d been working 100 years ago, most people would’ve worked on a farm or a mine; 50 years ago we would’ve been working in a factory, today most people in developed markets work in the knowledge economy and we bring our brains not our muscle power to work. But whilst the nature of work has changed significantly over the past 100 years the structures of work, including the office itself, have remain stubbornly old fashioned. Peter Drucker said that in the knowledge era everything would change and he foresaw a time when companies would become more virtual, elastic, networked and self managed. However, most companies today still run offices that are unnatural, uninspiring and unproductive. The time for a leadership revolution is now. We need to wash away the old establishment and mindset and build the organisations that Peter Drucker saw.
Encouraging signs are emerging with numerous studies supporting the benefit of teleworking and more flexible networked organisation. Research by the UK Government and O2, a large telecommunications company, show that not only do companies save gob loads of money when they systemise teleworking but that it is also good on productivity and staff moral. Oh and the environment benefits too. Studies reveal the following benefits:
- Employees save £3,775 a year on commuting costs
- Spare the environment 4000 kilograms of pollutants
- Saves the company £6000 per employee
- Improved productivity moral and staff attrition
- 45% of UK and US workers have jobs that would be compatible with at least some degree of teleworking
A recent study in Australia backs up these findings, says The Age, an Australian newspaper: Initiatives by the Government there show that telework will deliver an extra $3.2 billion a year to GDP by 2020-21 and the equivalent of an extra 25,000 full-time jobs.
So why are on the whole are business leaders so hesitant, to embrace this productivity boon? Because we still manage our employees with an Industrial era production line mindset. We manage and reward input as opposed to output. People are widgets in the cog rather than the oil so essential for optimal performance. A mindset shift is required and soon.
And a word of advice for teleworkers, don’t let your children put large magnets near your laptop (as a partner at TT recently discovered the impact thereof) and if you have a cat, don’t leave your aquarium screensaver on 🙂