Is ‘teleworking’ the way of the world going forward? The lonely figure sitting in a cafe working remotely from her team, her office, her collaborative influence?
That’s what the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, is after. She recently announced that she will commit 12% of Australian Public Servants to a teleworking arrangement… what does this mean? They will basically have the flexibility of working remotely, from their homes, their favourite cafes, from the Great Ocean Road…. basically wherever they want.
The cynic inside me wonders is there a hidden agenda here for the Gillard Government, is it to justify the enormous cost of the NBN to the tax payers by giving them a new “shiny thing” and new “buzz word” to focus on? ”Working from home”, as we all know it, is nothing new. Large and small companies alike have been doing it for years… so why the new name and the new focus on TELEWORKING? I would hate to assume the worst but it is hard to ignore.
Teleworking has worked really well in a lot of organisations. In fact, I am doing it right now whilst writing this blog. I am sitting in my local cafe sipping on lattes and getting my creative juices flowing. But will this always work?
In the industry that Nexus CG and myself belongs to, Marketing and Advertising, it’s all about being creative. And whilst I can be creative by myself sitting in a cafe writing a blog, if I was to develop a new marketing launch for a new product for example, would I really do as good a job by myself as I would with my esteemed work mates? I doubt it.
You see what I’ve noticed about running a team of creatives is that they quite literally feed off each other. They get more and more creative based on the people, the environment, the mood, the activity and the conversation around them. They will always create something quite magical with their teammates in comparison to creating something on their own. So for Nexus CG, I can’t see teleworking being a workable system for the majority of time.
This isn’t to say I wouldn’t be open to it. On some occasions I totally get the need to get away from the office to get a whole load of work completed. I do that every Wednesday; it means an uninterrupted day of work. But can I trust my staff to do the same thing? Absolutely. For me, teleworking can only work if you trust your staff - and if you don’t need that collaboration time.
What a lot of people seem to forget is that most businesses are started from home, or “the coffice” (cafe office)- and Nexus CG was no different. I started it from my mother’s house and it was a great way to keep costs low. One thing that many people don’t realise is that you can become very lonely working by yourself. And that loneliness is almost catastrophic to the creative juices because you start focusing on the loneliness and not the creativity.
So maybe teleworking is for some industries and not others…. maybe teleworking is for some people and not others… and maybe we as employers need to look at each person’s situation individually and create a teleworking policy for them… not the company.
For me I would need to work through many considerations in order to either agree or disagree to the individual teleworking policy. These are:
- How much work experience does the individual have? The less experience the more likely they are to feel lost in a teleworking scenario.
- What kind of work is the employee doing? Do they need to be around peers to do the best job possible?
- Insurance, where will they be working and will I need to “sight the premises” in order for my insurance company not to “crack the sads”?
- What are the implications of taking customer’s IP out of the office? Will our customers be ok with this?
- Will our customers see this teleworking policy as almost like “outsourcing overseas” and therefore lose that element of control and human interaction? The whole notion of outsourcing their marketing is challenging enough for most of our customers.
- What kind of person is the employee? Do they create better work surrounded by a team and in a positive environment?
- What kind of environment will they be working in and is it “workable”? For example, a busy pub in Richmond is probably not ideal to hold customer teleconferences re their branding.
- There is obviously a massive cost saving for teleworking but is the money a good enough reason to potentially sacrifice the quality of work through creative collaboration? I think not.
Thank you Julia Gillard for the “Shiny new buzz word” and thank you for trying to deflect from the real issue of the cost of the NBN. However for me and for Nexus CG, we will work on an individual teleworking policy… and not offer a blanket “12% of workers will be teleworking” because of that 12% who knows if it will actually be the making or breaking of their careers?
I care about my staff and their development too much to just simply add a metric to their careers in order to hide an agenda… surely we should be focusing on developing these people for sustainable growth in a workforce that is seriously struggling with skill shortages. How will these people learn from experienced peers I ask?
Here are a couple of pics of Team Nexus CG. I would hate to lose this kind of collaboration and integration:
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