The Way We Work 2018: Topics Worthy of Discussion Series
Guest blog with Industry Analyst Dave Michels
As part of our ongoing thought leadership research into the way we work, we caught up with Dave Michels, Lead Enterprise Communications Analyst at TalkingPointz. Dave has offered some insightful and engaging responses in this guest blog.
UNIFY: Our recent research shows that two-thirds of respondents are more satisfied with their work life style than they were 5 years ago. Do you agree with this finding? What are your observations?
Dave Michels: The workday is more flexible than it once was. Like everything, there’s some good and bad to this. The work-day is much more fluid than it was – more outcome focused, than time focused. Our tasks and devices operate independently of location. The good news is no one at work cares if I have personal conflicts during the day, such as a dentist appointment. The flip side of that is I’m often tasked to complete something during the evening or on weekends.
In many ways, this was inevitable. IT has been implementing tools that make us more efficient for some 50 years, yet the workday isn’t any shorter. The workday was never going to get shorter, but new technologies at least make it more flexible.
Personally, I enjoy splitting my day up. I tend to work in two four-hour (or more) bursts with a big break in the middle. That just wasn’t possible when work was narrowly defined by location and schedule.
UNIFY: A majority of respondents indicated higher work satisfaction associated with some exposure and access to a traditional office setting (ideally up to 25% of the time). This was even higher for Millennials (up to 50% of the time). What do you think it behind this factor?
Dave Michels: Back in the day, work was just work. We didn’t separate the activity, outcome, social aspects, etc. because there was no reason to. We just did our work and then went home. Now, we can do work at home, work alone or collaborate with others, and we can just as easily work with colleagues across company boundaries as well (including suppliers, partners, and customers).
Many people were quick to adapt, but discovered that the office provided more than a place to work. There can be loneliness to remote work. No one notices that new outfit, hairstyle, limp, or car. We didn’t really appreciate how much of our social life was at work.
That doesn’t necessarily mean we should all go back to the office. Teleworking and mobile-working have a lot of benefits. We just need to fill some gaps. This often entails more open workspaces at the office, as well as deliberate efforts (such as events) to help people meet each other and build relationships. Our tools are also integrating more social capabilities. This is one of the great things about workstream collaboration - various channels or rooms can be set up for projects, as well as banter. Most of these solutions support video, and the adoption of video accelerates relationship building – certainly more than voice or text do.
UNIFY: Are remote or home-based workers more vulnerable to security or hacking exposures? What are the implications for organizations to manage this potential exposure?
Dave Michels: I’ve said it before, and I will say it a hundred times more. Security rarely has anything to do with location. Security involves best practices, tools, training/awareness, and procedures. If you can make a process secure at the office, you can make it secure at home or at other remote locations.
The problem is, and this is becoming abundantly clear, the “at-office” procedures usually aren’t very good. We use “at-office” as a crutch. All these big data hacks you hear about on a weekly basis aren’t hacking personal PCs and smartphones.
If you want security, you have to work at it. That involves clear best practices, documented procedures, training, awareness, and monitoring tools. Location is usually not a factor. I point to Bitcoin – a distributed honeypot worth billions, distributed all over the Internet - yet Bitcoin has never been hacked. Yes, some centralized servers such as private exchanges have been hacked, but not the currency itself. The Internet can be secure.
UNIFY: What unintended consequences (positive, negative, humorous and/or otherwise unexpected) of remote working have you seen?
Dave Michels: I think the most common accidental consequence is doorbells and barking dogs. The funny part of this is, this has become so common that it’s not a big deal any more. It’s still disruptive, but it’s not embarrassing like it used to be. It can happen to anyone, and everyone knows that.
I think an unintended consequence is the workday gets a little fuzzy. For some this means they work too much and for some it means they work too little. We used to measure the workday by the clock – and as silly as that was, it was easy.
Now, the burden is on individuals to determine how much to do. Simple outcome-based measurements can be unrealistic or impractical. We want to be objective and fair, but it takes time to figure this out. Strong communications, and communications tools, are necessary.