Posts

Making Distributed Meetings Matter

Distributed MeetingOn the eve of IFMA’s annual World Workplace conference, which I am attending this week in Denver, it seems appropriate to think for a moment about meetings that don’t take place in a “place.” I’m thinking of course of meetings where everyone is somewhere else – what most of us call “distributed” meetings.

One distributed meeting practice I hold very dear is this [New Rule]: Do not schedule a “mixed meeting” unless there is absolutely no alternative.

A mixed meeting is one that includes two or more people in the same place plus one or more others calling in from somewhere else.

I’ve almost never seen a mixed meeting go well; some organizations actively prohibit them – if anyone is participating remotely, everyone calls in, even when some participants are located close together. Read more

How Can I Manage Them When I Can’t See Them?

Happy entrepreneur working with a phone and laptop in a coffee shop in the streetAs early as 2002 one of my earliest studies of work patterns indicated that on average knowledge workers were spending only about 35% of their work time inside their assigned corporate facility. They were spending another 30% of their time working out of home offices, and the remainder in “Third Places” like coffee shops, libraries, public parks, hotels, and airports.

Think about that: a full two-thirds of knowledge work now takes place outside of corporate facilities. That sounds like a strikingly large number, but I and many others have conducted numerous studies clearly demonstrating that organizational work today is widely dispersed across many different kinds of locations. Most of us today act as if it doesn’t matter whether the people we are in conversation with are across a desk, across the room, across town, or on another continent.

Yet one of the most common complaints I hear about letting local employees work remotely even just a day or two a week is “How can I manage them if I can’t see them?” Read more

“Five thousand people are a whole lot smarter than five”

LargeCrowdSome time ago I heard a story about a CEO who had opened up his organization’s strategic planning process to solicit ideas from all of the company’s 5,000 employees. When asked why he did that instead of relying on his executive committee, he said, simply, “I woke up one morning and realized that 5,000 people are a whole lot smarter than five.”

But that kind of openness is highly unusual among senior executives. Most of the executive leaders I have known and worked with see themselves as the “deciders” and the visionaries whose instincts about what is needed are superior to everyone else’s. Most of them are convinced that’s why they are in a leadership position.

But in large complex organizations it’s not that simple.

As I pointed out last week (“Getting Everyone in on the Action”), there is valuable knowledge distributed throughout every large organization – but it’s usually buried deep within the rank and file, and most executive leaders do not seem interested in seeking it out. Read more

The Future of the Workplace

IFMA Spain held a Facilities/Workplace Summit in Madrid on the 3rd of October. The principal organizer of the conferece, Francisco Vazquez Medem, asked me to submit some advance commentary on the future of the workplace (I could not attend in person, as I was participating actively in World Workplace 2013 in Philadelphia).

I sent Francisco and the Madrid attendees this brief video comment, now available on YouTube:

I would love to hear your reactions and further comments. [continue reading...]

Is the Future of Work Focused on Staying Home?

I was recently asked a question that I hear all too often:

You have been studying today’s most favored methods of working for many years. What are the big headlines about that? Just where are we going? Or rather, are we all going to stay home and work from there all the time ?

No, we’re not all going to “cocoon” and never leave our home offices! [continue reading...]

Future of Work Agenda Newsletter: October 2010

This is the October 2010 issue of our free monthly newsletter, Future of Work Agenda. We welcome comments on any of these articles. You can also access the newsletter directly on our website, at this link.

It’s often said that it’s darkest before dawn. But we like to pay more attention to the “early light” that always precedes sunrises. [continue reading...]

Managing a Remote Workforce

We just posted a note on the workshifting.com blog about our latest research white paper, “Managing a Remote Workforce:  Proven Practices from Succesful Leaders.” The post is a highly condensed version of the full 20-page paper, which you can download for free from the workshifting site. Check it out. You won’t regret it. [continue reading...]

Future of Work Agenda Newsletter: May 2010

This is the May 2010 issue of our free monthly newsletter, Future of Work Agenda. We welcome comments on any of these articles. You can also access the newsletter directly on our website, at this link.

We like to slow down a bit in the summer—but it ain’t gonna happen this year. If anything, we’re feeling the pace of business—and life—accelerating beyond imagination. [continue reading...]

Raising the Bar on Flexible Work

Just found a very compelling report on the role that flexible work has in supporting corporate agility and strategic flexibility. It’s a new report prepared by Sandy Burud, Ph.D, of Flexpaths, a firm we know and have had many conversations with.

There’s a brief summary of the research and the report on the Sloan Work and Family Network website (which I found via twitter – @sloannetwork). [continue reading...]

Going Mobile Overnight: Business Continuity Insurance

This is a reprint of the Compass article from our September Future of Work Agenda newsletter. We are reproducing it here to call attention to the importance of preparing for the upcoming flu season in North America, and the value of having a flexible/mobile work program as a means of coping with a pandemic.

By Jim Ware and Charlie Grantham

It’s fall here in North America, and the flu season is upon us. Most of us know there’s a greater risk than normal this year because of the H1N1 virus, commonly known as Swine Flu. Clearly, we all hope it won’t turn into a pandemic, but that possibility remains very real.

However, this isn’t a plea for you to get a flu shot (though you should, and we certainly plan to). Rather, it’s a reminder that unlikely but possible events like a pandemic, a hurricane, an earthquake, a transit strike, or—heaven help us—a terrorist attack could play havoc with your business. As Alvin Toffler pointed out many years ago, it’s those low probability/high impact external events that can create genuine “future shock” if you haven’t included them in your thinking.

While many organizations do have detailed business continuity and risk abatement plans, our experience suggests that very few of those plans include the best response of all:  a remote/mobile work program.

Read more