In the old days, pre-Covid, I used to write about telework as a tide coming slowly in. An inch at a time, unlike Alvin Toffler’s Third Wave. But with the advent of Covid the telework tide turned into a tsunami, seemingly sweeping all else before it. Now that the tsunami is slowly receding it’s time to review its impacts and their future.
The Covid pandemic suddenly forced many organizations to become telecommuter-dominant early in 2020. Consequently, the majority of the employees at all levels of the organizations were forced, almost overnight, to work at home, mostly with no prior training or other preparation. I was conflicted at the time, elated that a massive, global demonstration of teleworking had been started, but worried that the lack of training and pre-planning would produce many organizational disasters.
Continue reading The Telework tide became a tsunami
In case you haven’t heard it yet, Marissa Mayer the new leader of Yahoo! has decided to terminate telecommuting for all Yahoo! employees as of June. Not just some telecommuting, all telecommuting. Her reasoning appears to be:
- Yahoo! needs to be more competitive;
- competitive organizations always have all their employees in the office every day so that they can interact with each other;
- therefore Yahoo! needs to have all of its employees in the office every day so that they can interact with each other and be more competitive!
The only problem with that syllogism is that statement 2, although generally applicable around the time of Abraham Lincoln, is wrong for most information-based organizations in the 21st century. Here’s why.
At fairly regular intervals I get questions from the media like: “Whatever happened to the great surge in telecommuting that was predicted back in 19xx (or 20xx)?” The reporter usually hadn’t seen any recent stories about telecommuting and therefore (while imagining the headline) leapt to the conclusion that “telecommuting is dead!”
Telecommuting isn’t dead. It’s alive and well, if stealthy.
As a very recent indicator I was listening to NPR this morning as the reporter in Manhattan was describing the return to work of exurban-dwelling workers after the onslaught of Hurricane Irene. The reporter’s words were to the effect that workers seemed to be arriving by bus or car as usual or “maybe they’re telecommuting” (as an explanation of the lower than usual numbers of arrivals). An indication that disaster planning efforts that included telecommuting might actually be in effect in many companies (see some of my earlier blogs to that effect). But who’s counting?
I have also had conversations over the past few years with employees of large corporations on the topic of telecommuting, both formal and informal (stealth). The general telecommuting implementation scenario goes: Continue reading Stealth Telecommuting