Although slowed by the recession, executives are still watching closely the trends in the workshifting world. As we rebound many executives are being asked to answer the following question: How will we come out of the recession strong and how does flexible working play into our changing workforce definitions?
Clearly the demand for workshifting has been around for a while from the employee’s perspective but the following 4 things are making it impossible for business executives to ignore the workshifting movement.
I had the pleasure of speaking on a Webinar with Katty Kay, Washington Correspondent for BBC World News America. One of her newest projects with Claire Shipman is the book Womenomics which talks about the fact that women are demanding more flexibility in their work. Kay and Shipman go on to argue that women have more power than ever to demand this control over their schedules because companies that have proportionately more woman managers are also more profitable. Women want to work but gone are the days of 60 hour work weeks in the office, scrambling to find childcare and skipping the leisure time. The book offers many examples of how woman are leading this economy and to stay competitive and profitable, companies will need to offer woman the flexibility they are beginning to require.
Katty and I cover this topic in a lot more detail in this Webinar recording.
- Big Company Adoption
Have you heard of ROWE? ROWE stands for “results-only work environment” and is Best Buy’s workshifting program that says employees can work wherever they want, whenever they want, as long as they get their work done. This article in BusinessWeek does a great job of highlighting other big company’s results from ROWE-type initiatives.
IBM has about 40% of their workforce with not official corporate office and Sun Microsystems Inc. estimates that they save $400 million over six years in real estate costs by letting employees work from anywhere. The biggest driver for these large organizations out the gate is usually the facilities cost when they don’t have to dedicate corporate space to each individual employee. But after rolling flexible working arrangements out, companies see the increased results because of higher job satisfaction.
ROWE programs not only reduce costs but make for a more productive organization.
- Gen Y
I’ve talked about this before in a previous post so I’ll just highlight briefly what’s getting attention here. Whatever you choose to call the newest generation (Gen Y, Millenials, Screenagers, etc.), they all grew up with the internet. They’re more comfortable with technology and less accepting of corporate norms like 9-5 or suit and ties. Gen Y has been struggling at the hands of this economy but coming on the rebound companies will have to employ flexible working arrangements in order to acquire and motivate this growing segment of the workforce. I’d also like to thank all of those who commented on my previous Gen Y post saying that this was an overall workforce trend (not just Gen Y). I agree that this demand comes from all the generations as technology becomes more intertwined with how we do business.
- Social Media
The power and growth of social media over the last couple years is astounding. Here’s a fun little video showing the insane adoption and usage of social media from Socialnomics:
The fact that so many of us are going to the Web to communicate and do business makes executives questions our traditional ways of doing business. We trust Wikipedia for information and use social media sites like Twitter to communicate as part of our jobs. This trend is only increasing and shows our acceptance of social media as a business communication tool.
So I’m not saying that all companies are going to have formal flexible working programs tomorrow. What I am saying is that the 4 items above are getting executive attention and companies will have to address workshifting in their workforce plans for the next 3 years. What else is getting executive attention from the workshifting world?
Photo by: AJ Leon