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Slowly but surely, a seismic shift is taking place in the way that we work. We are far more enlightened and aware of exactly what is possible, and we are beginning to question what working for a living actually imposes on us, our family and our private lives. We understand that we need to work to generate money that enables us to pay the mortgage, but increasingly we are looking for ways that do not place so many logistical challenges on us. This growing trend can be described in one word – workshifting.

While it’s difficult to get real figures on just how many people workshift and who can already be classified as working from somewhere else other than their traditional “office”, the respected analyst Forrester Research went so far as to estimate that up to half of the workforce could be teleworking by the year 2016. This is a good cause for optimism among those of us who crave more freedom and choice in how we work.

Workshifting doesn’t necessarily dictate that you need to work from home; it could also mean working from hotel rooms, airport lounges, Internet cafés and other remote locations, wherever your work might take you.

Fundamentally, we will be casting away the chains that have up until now held us prisoner within the traditional “cubicle nation,” and we can begin to use the wonders of technology and advanced communications to enable us to do our work well and still have time to play!

We’ve seen in recent years how more and more employees consider their home to be their primary place of work.  Will there be a wholesale adoption of teleworking by 2016 as Forrester suggests?

With the fast broadband, multiple Wi-Fi hotspots and the growing use of cloud computing, why on earth aren’t we seeing a wholesale exodus or even a stampede toward workshifting? From the perspectives of both employee and employer, there’s so much to be gained. Eliminating the operational costs of offices leads to a healthier bottom line. Surely, in this age of economic downturn, companies should be jumping at the chance to implement such a significant cost-cutting measure.

However, old habits die hard and organizations are used to relying on a management hierarchy that dictates physical oversight. In short, does our management culture actually “trust” wholesale workshifting, or will the boss keep an eye on us to ensure that we’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing?

The trend is interesting, and while it seems clear that it’s getting up a full head of steam, it’s likely that it will take some time to fully emerge as traditional cultures and perspectives slowly but surely fade into the distant past. In my opinion, the workshifting culture can’t come soon enough!

Photo Credit: C.C. Chapman

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  • Paul Jones

    This is a great post. It touches on all of the major points
    of work shifting in a concise manner. I learned some new things and had other
    beliefs reinforced.

     

    Recently I discovered that using our traditional office for
    all of our operations was counterproductive. We needed to work outside the
    office but, at the same, produce the same quality of work as if we never left
    the office. Most of the logistic problems were solved when we migrated most of
    our operations to a cloud based system. By using different locations from which
    to work, we reduced our real estate footprint, thus saving money. Workers seem
    refreshed when they return to the office after having worked for a period of
    time outside of the office.

     

    There is a correlation between where a person works and the quality
    of the work that is produced. Working from home is difficult under the best of
    circumstances. A person’s residence is normally viewed as their home, a place
    to retreat to escape the pressures of the job. In order to make the home feel
    like a workplace I would have to invade the worker’s personal life and space. Who
    should bear the costs of making the home more conducive to business operations?
    In order to avoid additional costs and personal conflicts with members of my team,
    I make sure that they shift office work only to environments that conducive to
    performing their duties. Regardless of where the work is performed the worker’s
    personal life should not interfere with the job.