Communication Tools Have Transforming Effect
This excerpt, “The Way We Work,” is from the first chapter of the book “The Power of IP Video: Unleashing Productivity with Visual Networking,” by Jennifer Baker, Felicia Brych Dalke, Mike Mitchell and Nader Nanjiani. How are the technologies of voice, video, web, and mobility transforming the traditional work environment?
Now that we have outlined some of the uses for video and quad-play technologies in an organization, let's discuss what else is possible. The hard dollar savings in travel and productivity is part of the conversation, but managers also need to consider the soft benefits of improved morale attributable to a better work/life balance.
Why should senior management care about communication tools? Short answer: Because workers aren't happy. Of workers under 25 years of age surveyed by the U.S. Conference Board, just 40 percent say they are satisfied with their jobs. Of workers surveyed in all age groups, only 52 percent of those making more than $50,000 per year reported job satisfaction. And only 36 percent expressed satisfaction with work/life balance, growth prospects, workload, and communications channels. The sections that follow present some compelling reasons why management teams might want to leverage the latest technologies, to stack the deck in the employer's favor when it comes to job satisfaction, work/life balance, and environmental support.
Remote-work arrangements offer a solution for business continuity in times of crisis (for example, snow days or other natural or man-made disasters). They also offer an alternative to the mandatory office environment, which might be a constant source of chatter, stress, and productivity loss for workers.
According to a Manpower study from June 2006, a large part (80 percent) of the U.S. workforce would like the option to work remotely rather than commute to the office. Would it be unrealistic to expect workers to be more productive from a more convenient remote setting, such as a home office? As long as workers have the latest communication technologies, they should be able to complete projects as efficiently remotely as at the office.
A Family-First Workplace
Employees want to be there when their children score their first goals (and not have to miss out on an important conference call to be there, either). They want to be home (not at a client site) on Valentine's Day. Look around next time you're at a children's sporting event. Most likely, you'll see a number of parents checking their emails (while still following the game). Such behavior suggests neither an exploitative employer nor a slacker employee.
Employers and employees reach an understanding on a case-by-case basis, through a mature outlook about work effectiveness/efficiency. If the work/life balance discussion is left put off for too long, the competitiveness of companies in knowledge-intensive industries might become compromised (especially during a talent shortage).