- Managing Me
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Any reader is familiar with the hit TV series The Office (English version, please) would notice people crouched over computer screens, doing who knows what, but all very engaged.
In fact, if you walk into almost any city office today, you will find precisely the same scene: people privately engaged in their work while crouched over a computer. So prevalent is this activity that we are being warned about the perils of continuous close-focused vision, teamed with keyboard-caused RSI and a lack of exercise, just to mention a few.
Given this is working life for so many these days, let’s turn that into an opportunity.
“Innovate” at work to reap multiple benefits
Many ‘birds can be killed’ with one stone if we embrace change:
Can you foresee these huge gains if most people did not have to travel to an office every day to do their jobs?
Do we need to have staff present?
Social interaction in the workplace has huge benefits, both for the wellbeing of workers, the cross-pollination of ideas and the building of a team environment.
However, in most cases there is absolutely no need for people to attend an office every day. Perhaps one day per week would be sufficient to allow for social interaction and general catch up.
Numerous studies have been undertaken on the subject of home workers, or so-called ‘telecommuters’. Most show the cost benefits in productivity and reduced cost of employment in many ways, including office space, energy, consumables and many other almost-hidden on-costs. For the worker there are also huge benefits.
A study in the USA found that the total number of US telecommuters (one day per month at home) grew from some 17 million in 2001 to almost 30 million by 2008. It is clear that there is a growing trend towards this sensible alternative to primarily office-based work.
Envisage the future
For sceptics who think this may not work, just imagine a computer with a screen that shows every member of your team as a screen shot, and perhaps an overhead view of the office environment. To meet or speak with any member, you simply click on their image. To engage with a group, simply click on the people required. All come to together as 3D interactive images with high-quality audio – a virtual office.
In such a high-definition virtual environment there is little difference from having staff physically present. In fact, to meet or speak with a team member in such an environment would be easier and faster than getting up from your desk and walking to their office-based workstation.
What is required to achieve this utopia?
The potential benefits are profound
The benefits are huge and can lead to much higher productivity and reduced worker stress caused by travelling to and from work. Indeed, when surveyed in the USA, many workers cited the stress of travelling to and from work as their biggest concern.
Perhaps it may even be possible to ask staff to put in an extra 30 to 60 minutes a day if you remove the normal one to two hours of commuting time – not to mention the cost.
Where to from here?
Perhaps now is the time to act, with traffic snarls increasing to the point of frustration, public transport running at capacity and real productivity falling.
Embrace this new paradigm and reap the benefits. Start off slowly and track the results.