Trends in Teleworking

Kurt Cagle, the managing editor of XML.com, recently explored Telework as the New Face of the Agile Workforce in a piece for O’Reilly Media. The article examines the intersection of rising fuel prices, the credit crunch, rising real estate prices and congested transport networks, contrasting them with the steady rise in teleworking and telecommuting.

Here’s a few interesting notes from of Cagle’s analysis…

  • Roadbumps On the Virtual Commute – social media, presence-based communications and web applications are helping to minimize the some of the issues around how people work together from different locations and time zones. Cagle goes on to point out the the technical limitations are now largely moot, with social limitations being of concern to most teleworkers.
  • Telework and Agile Development -the notion of agile development, pairing experienced and inexperienced programmers through a mentoring relationship is beginning to spread to other non-software disciplines such as writers and marketeers.
  • Risk Mitigation Through Telework – dispersing the physical and human assets of organizations can help build resilience and continuity into a business, mitigating the risk of potentially disastrous scenarios. Conversely, casting a wider net for talent and personnel opens new opportunities and ensure the best people can be engaged.
  • The Green Telecommute – There’s a growing anxiety that teleworking simply shifts the carbon debt from organizations to individuals homes; however studies from Sun illustrate that 97% of an employee’s carbon footprint was simply due to commuting. Sadly, here in the UK telecommuting isn’t even part of the political debate on greening British cities.
  • Telework’s Future - a rethink is required in how organizations manage people. Teleworking demographics polarize around those close to retirement and those early in their careers, each demanding a degree of flexibility in their lives. With estimates that around a third of the US workforce will demand to telework within the next four years, it’s clear organizations aren’t culturally attuned to manage a distributed workforce. I’d go further and state that government is tone deaf to the possibilities of incentivizing teleworking as a means to reduce the burden on congested transport networks.

Read Kurt Cagle’s full report here…


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