nextwork.io is a blog to help workers and organizations understand and benefit from the ever-accelerating changes in how we all work. According to Global Workplace Analytics, remote work among the non-self-employed population has grown by 115% since 2005, nearly 10x faster than the rest of the workforce. 80% to 90% of the US workforce say they would like to work remote, at least part time, to more evenly balance their concentrative work (home) and their collaborative work. (office)
Fortune 1000 companies around the globe are entirely revamping their space around the fact that employees are already mobile. Studies repeatedly show they are not at their desk 50-60% of the time.
3.7 million employees (2.8% of the workforce) now work from home at least half the time. Yet, even though 40% more employers offer flexible workplace options than they did five years ago, still only 7% make it available to most of their employees.
There are many legitimate reasons companies don't embrace remote work and many large companies have reversed their remote work policies and called workers back to a centralized office.
But, as Baby Boomers shift their attention to a professional “third act” and their tech-immersed Millennial colleagues negotiate work/life integration, new and equally logical reasons to embrace remote work will continue to emerge.
societal benefits vs. corporate challenges
Corporate cost reductions and talent competition has driven remote work's initial popularity in the C-Suite. Remote work immediately mainstreamed in many tech startups, while mature enterprises emulated younger ones to keep up and more effectively compete for tech talent.
It's been a good thing for a lot of workers. Remote work provides families with a renewed flexibility for primary caregivers, so younger and older family members often remain at home longer, strengthening the relationships and mental well-being of families.. Individuals who work remote often spend more time around their neighbors and purchase goods closer to home, integrating neighborhoods and promoting localism.
But, remote workers also become isolated. Even with advances in collaboration and workflow technology, workers report loneliness and can become socially separated. Many times, face=to-face conversations in a centralized office foster the relationships and trust critical for successful projects and career advancement.
Ideally, remote work can be a factor in reversing the separation between work and home that Alan Watts described way back in 1966, when he wrote:
"...the home in an industrial society is chiefly a dormitory, and the father does not work there, with the result that wife and children have no part in his vocation."
Quite often, remote work enables workers and their families to reverse that toxic societal trend of separation Alan Watts described so long ago. But, like everything else, one has to balance the benefits and risks of any professional relationship. Both workers and employers see the benefits and deal with the risks of remote work.
Navigating and negotiating these professional quandaries in this era of unprecedented technological and societal change is fascinating to me and I enjoy making observations about how people are handling it all.
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