Work Without Boundaries
Flexible worksites and mobile employees can offer strategic site selection advantages, but business owners must find the right balance.
Mark Dixon, Chief Executive Officer, The Regus Group (Nov 07)
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Recruiting and Retention Incentives
cost savings is perhaps the most obvious benefit of a distributed work
force, there are other significant advantages that previously have been
overlooked by most decision makers. For example, workplace flexibility
is becoming a differentiator in the global competition for talent.
a shortage of skills starts to hit hard in the coming decade and
companies battle to acquire and retain knowledge workers, providing a
flexible work environment will be as important as delivering a
competitive pay package and a stimulating job.
will want to work from a neighborhood office near where they live,
rather than endure a long commute to the corporate campus. Some will
want to stay connected while collaborating with clients and employees
remotely. Still others will want to work from home on a part-time or
even full-time basis.
Employers who offer creative solutions
will lead the way in attracting and retaining the most talented workers
- the very employees who will help them win the marketplace.
shift to mobile working can even improve productivity. While some
managers instinctively assume that employees working away from the
office will be less productive, various studies have found the opposite
to be true.
In an office environment, it is easy for people to
hold unnecessary meetings, attended by employees who have only a
marginal interest in the issues. When people work from different
locations, holding a meeting means traveling distances - and they will
do so only if they are convinced it is worth their time. Similarly,
people who work remotely may experience fewer distractions, such as
fewer people stopping by their desks to chat or have informal
The Management Challenge
the benefits - and the growing business imperative - of providing a
more flexible work environment are becoming apparent, managing this
kind of change presents several major challenges. To begin with, many
organizations lack the necessary experience to manage a distributed
work force. For decades, most companies have built and expanded working
practices around a business assumption that the bulk of their employees
will be in one place at the same time.
There are also challenges
from the employee perspective. Many remote workers feel isolated, cut
off from the rest of the company, and lacking of the support and
professional resources their office-based counterparts enjoy. While
their output may increase, they may long for the social interaction and
team collaboration that face-to-face environments create.
To overcome these challenges, employers and employees alike must adopt a new mindset regarding remote working.
true mobile work philosophy goes far beyond allowing employees stay
home. Creating an efficient, innovative, and high-performing
distributed work force requires two core capabilities: first, a
technology and communications infrastructure to keep workers connected
- not just to the Internet, but to the pulse and nerve center of the
organization; second, the ability to provide office- and
community-related services across multiple environments, accommodating
home-based workers, satellite offices, and frequent travelers equally.
companies aren't meeting both of these needs on their own. And when
they are, most aren't doing it cost-effectively. Getting deeply
involved in the process of placing and equipping remote workers is a
distraction from their core businesses and can be more of a hindrance
than a help.
Increasingly, companies are turning to outsourced
solutions that allow their employees to work wherever, whenever, and
however they choose. Networks of business lounges, drop-in offices and
meeting rooms, videoconferencing, virtual offices, and other workplace
options enable mobile workers to stay connected, collaborate and
innovate in unique ways that work best for them.
Whether it's a
startup firm or a multinational corporation, thinking past the outdated
notion of "everyone in one place" and embracing the inevitability of a
distributed, nimble workforce is what it truly means to work without
boundaries. It's a strategic business model that today's talented
workers prize, and tomorrow's successful companies will undoubtedly
Mark Dixon is chief
executive officer of the Regus Group, the world's largest provider of
workplace solutions. Regus operates a global network of more than 950
business centers in 400 cities and 70 countries. Visit the company
website at www.regus.com.