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Telepresence Robots: The New Look of Telecommuting

Forget video conferencing. Now there’s an even better way to telecommute—one that allows you to move, interact, and engage as if you were right in the same room as your colleagues. Perhaps even cooler—it allows you to ride a Segway from afar. Telepresence robots are the new wave of technology coming to workplaces across the country, and they’re making their way into almost every sector, from healthcare and education to art and entertainment.

I remember the first time I encountered a telepresence robot. I was visiting a local hospital, and the robot was on-hand to translate important health information to a patient who did not speak English. The idea seemed brilliant for a few reasons. First, the comfort of being able to speak in your own language with an actual human could be a huge help in the healing process. And second—from a purely business point of view—the option of using robots to deploy human translators as needed meant hospitals were no longer limited to the number of translators they could afford to hire. They could simply outsource the service to a translating company that was ready and available when needed—offering a much larger array of languages than the hospital would be able to offer on its own.

It seems translators aren’t the only ones who got the message. Now, telepresence robots are making their way into mainstream offices, allowing employees to enjoy mobility in a whole different way. Once relegated to long phone calls and teleconferences—often feeling left out and marginalized by onsite employees— “robotic” employees can speak at eye level, move alongside colleagues, and offer their insights and ideas without missing a beat. But beyond the personal and psychological benefits of being more fully “present” in the workplace, what are the business-side benefits of offering robotic telecommuting? The following are just a few:

Makes Dangerous Tasks Safer

Now, rather than sending structural engineers, rescue teams, or police forces into potentially dangerous areas, companies can send those professionals via robotic telepresence. The option allows experts to scope out the situation using their specific know how—without risking their lives.

Makes Experiential Learning Even Easier

Now, schools, colleges, and businesses no longer need to factor in airfare, hotel, bus, and food expenses into the cost of experiential learning. A type of virtual reality light, robotic telepresence allows you to visit museums, tour cities, or participate in professional conferences—all without leaving home. And you don’t even have to wear VR goggles to do it.

Allows You to Hire the Best—And Experience Them in Person

Mobility has been a huge help in allowing companies to hire the best person for the job, regardless of where they live. Now, companies can experience their insights and personality even easier, pulling them into impromptu discussions, ad hoc meetings, and even lunch outings. For the first time, remote employees can feel like a real part of the team.

Offers a More Seamless Work Experience

In the past, remote employees often missed out on group work and interaction. Now, robots can be wheeled aside for team projects, sidebar conversations, and other personal engagement that video conferencing simply doesn’t provide. It allows for a more seamless—and efficient—work experience, and allows you to benefit from the employee’s full range of talent, as well.

Cuts Down on Multi-tasking

We all know one of the likely side effects of being on a long and arduous conference call is that it allows us to catch up on emails, check our phones, and—if we’re working remotely—do the laundry. Robotic telepresence limits the ability for employees to take on those other tasks, forcing them to focus on the project—and people—at hand. That in turn makes the meetings less arduous and more productive overall.

As the world continues to move toward mobility and remote work environments, robotic telepresence offers a great way to keep our human connections as they should be—human—albeit with technology’s helping hand. The advancement is one that will surely become more common in offices around the world—and I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw family members visiting our homes as robots soon, as well.

Additional Resources on This Topic:
One Goal, One Team: The Remote Workforce Conundrum
How Mobile Technology Impacts the HR Industry

Photo Credit: Janitors Flickr via Compfight cc

This article was first published on FOW Media.

Being a Remote Worker is No Day At the Beach!

There was a time when I used to dream about becoming a remote worker. The thought usually arose while stuck in rush hour traffic on the 405 (note: rush hour is approximately 7am to 7pm in Southern California). I pictured myself on an outdoor chaise lounge, tropical drink in hand, as client after client called to tell me they were ready to sign on the dotted line. Pineapple slice? Don’t mind if I do.

Fast forward a couple years. I am now a remote worker, thanks in part to my wife taking a teaching job on the opposite coast, and our house is literally one block from the beach. And though we do own a chaise lounge, it gets virtually no weekday use, and nothing is quite as I pictured it (example: I still wear pants every day). Being a remote worker is not as easy I thought it would be.

According to the NY Times, the number of telecommuters rose 79% from 2005 to 2012. There’s a variety of reasons one might choose to work remotely: geographical limitations, family situation, the desire to become one’s own boss. In some respects, there’s never been a better time to work remotely. Fast internet and myriad communication tools help us to overcome the everyday inconvenience of a lack of facetime.

But there are drawbacks too. Working out of a home office can be distracting, as family (and pets) compete for your attention. Being a remote worker is psychologically taxing, as you can sometimes feel isolated and miss out on the social gatherings an office affords. On the productivity side, access to critical data and company updates are often stymied by a breakdown in the communication process.

Having experienced the highs and lows of transitioning from cubicle dweller to master of his own home office, I thought I’d share three important lessons I’ve learned along the way:

  1. Schedule your day tightly (and stick to that schedule)

In an office, the most important items on your to-do list are often dictated by outside forces (“Can you follow up on this lead?”, “Can you help me find a reference client?”, “We need you in this meeting”). You likely would have a schedule, but there was some fluidity to account for the needs of other team members.

As a remote employee, you must create a strict schedule for yourself and stick to it. You have to be incredibly proactive and not easily distracted. And you can’t wait for others to do things for you. It’s not exactly “out of sight, out of mind”, but it’s a lot harder to be the squeaky wheel when the oil is 3000 miles away. (side note: your mixed metaphors get less appreciation when you’re remote)

Repetition is also an important part of scheduling. For instance, I have a call with one particular client every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 12:30. I can schedule the rest of my calls and tasks around that one particular anchor task.

  1. You must be succinct and direct in your communication

In an office, you can iterate often. The logo is off-centered, pop over to the graphic designer’s desk. Now the logo’s too large, head on back. You wanted burnt sienna not burnt orange, one more trip.

You don’t have that luxury as a remote employee. You only get attention sporadically, so you have to be very specific in what you want. And definitely don’t be shy. If you don’t ask for something, you don’t get it.

You also must be succinct – if you write a long rambling email, you’re going to lose your audience halfway through. Plus, you want to place emphasis on only that which is important, something easier in-person via dialogue, because you don’t want your fellow employees to focus on the wrong area.

  1. Take advantage of online collaboration tools

The internet can be a huge time suck (thanks, Twitter). But it can also make you more effective and connected with other employees.

There are a number of different online collaboration tools out there. One company I consult with, WorkSmart.net, has a productivity suite that includes cloud-based document management, project management, and database apps. Some of the other indispensable solutions I’ve used recently: Skype, Trello, Hipchat, and join.me.

Solely relying on email can lead to information overload – plus it’s hard searching through 1000s of emails – so seek out more efficient solutions. If you use an online collaboration tool, you can effectively work with teammates while being geographically disperse. I’m able to work collaboratively with colleagues in the UK and India often without having to pick up the phone. Plus, building out these online collaboration portals helps bring new remote employees up to speed quicker after hiring.

I must confess, there’s a lot of things I miss about working in an office: lunchtime basketball, high fives, saying “goodnight” to friends/colleagues. But one thing that hasn’t changed is my productivity. Don’t let the realities of being a remote worker derail your career. Just because you’re remote doesn’t mean you have to be distant.

Telecommuting? Danger, Will Robinson!

Technology has rapidly developed In the last twenty years.In the early days of the computer, people spent their work days battling dinosaur hardware while bitterly wishing the technology would catch up with the scientific wonders seen in the 1965 television series, Lost in Space.

By the time I eagerly watched Friends star, Matt LeBlanc, star in the 1998 movie remake of Lost in Space, software developers like PlaceWare and Starlight Networks released software that allowed organizations to host online conferences with live chat. The digital age was in its infancy.

Years passed. Technology continued to develop. As the technology developed, companies incorporated the free email services, free and paid conferences software, and free chat software to streamline their communication channels.

As the communication software was incorporated, companies began to offer employees the ability to work from home (telecommuting) as an additional perk.

Today, according to USC’s infographic How the Digital Age Shaped Communication Management, about 24% of American workers have been given the luxury of working at least some of their hours from home every week.

The Perks of Telecommuting

The ability to telecommute has many perks. The biggest, as far as I see, is the ability to remove the daily commute from your life. 

According to Pepperdine University’s infographic The Daily Commute in Your Rearview Mirror, every year the average commuter spends $1,129 on gas. Do you know how many copies of Lost in Space I could buy for 1,129 dollars? 225. On Blu-Ray! In all seriousness, the ability to eliminate the daily commute would allow me to utilize those funds to repay my student loans or create a nest-egg for the future.

Telecommuting also saves a significant amount of time. The average commuter spends around 25 minutes each day traveling. My own commute is closer to an hour every day. That’s 4 hours a week, 16 hours a month, or 192 hours every year that I spend traveling to and from work.

The Dangers of Telecommuting

I spend what amounts to 8 days traveling to and from work. Despite that fact, every time I hypothetically consider telecommuting, I get an image of the robot from the television version of Lost In Space waving his arms around while saying, “Danger, Will Robinson! Danger.”

Here’s some bad news. Telecommuting is not for everyone. Why? Not everyone has the personality or the work ethic to telecommute efficiently. Here are some types of people who should refrain from telecommuting:

Introverts who have limited out of work social interaction. In college, I could go days without speaking at all. These days I’m a tad more social, but I still spend large chunks of my three-day weekend not interacting with other people. Introverts may recharge during periods of silence, but they’re happiness is still dependent on social interaction. And employee productivity, according to Ohio University,  is closely linked to happiness. Introverts should either telecomute part-time, plan how they will receive their social interaction, or sign-up for a traditional on-site workday.

Individuals who have a hard time staying on task. Telecommuting requires a lot more self-control than the traditional 9-5. As a 9-5er, I experience one ten second to twenty minute urge to take the day off. Telecommuters, away from the watchful eyes of management, can experience the urge to flake on their work duties at every moment of the day to watch a rerun of Star Trek.

If you were one of those individuals who skipped class in school or decided not to do your homework, you might want to become a 9-5er. While at work, you can retain your job and work on developing good work habits. If you do decide to telecomute, it helps to establish a designated work area at home. While in that area, you work. While out of it, you play.

Technology has granted more individuals the luxury to telecommute. The ability to work from home, allows individuals to save money and time. Not have one has the habits and the personality to claim those perks. One day, we 9-5ers who can’t telecommute will have the skills, the self-control and the social life to incorporate telecommuting into our lives. Until then, we’ll just have to watch how other individuals telecommute. Like the technology explored in Lost in Space, one day we’ll catch up.

Image Credit: Pixabay.com 

How 15 Years Of Innovation Shaped Today’s Workforce (Infographic)

How did you work 15 years ago? Chance are you were blissfully unaware of “crackberry” addiction, sorting through actual piles of paper resumes, and learning new ways to use email and the Internet for work.

A lot has changed since the dawn of the new Millennium, and HR has evolved. New technology and innovations have changed the ways both employers and employees think about work and the ways we actually complete that work.

This infographic, compiled by MedReps.com, a job board for medical sales jobs and pharmaceutical sales jobs, looks at major innovations since the 21st century and how they have helped to transform and shape today’s work culture.

Some major breakthroughs include:

  • The rise of social media including LinkedIn in 2003, Facebook in 2004, and YouTube in 2005

  • The launch of the first iPhone in 2007, followed by the first CareerBuilder job search app in 2008

  • The growth of the telecommuting workforce

  • The adoption of video interviews

Check out the full infographic below to see how far we’ve come.

MedReps.com-Innovation-X-550px

What do you think? How have these advancements impacted HR and recruiting? What will the next 15 years look like?

About the Author: Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for organizations with products that target job seekers and/or employers. She is also the author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships: The Truth About Getting from Classroom to Cubicle (2011), #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), and writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets.

photo credit: Heart of Stars 2 via photopin (license)

Workshifting Will Get Better Working Together

These days, I work from home. Mostly.

My “workspace” is upstairs in a special section of our master bedroom I call my corner office nook, complete with a window backyard and neighborhood view. My workspace is fluid as well, flowing into the living room, the backyard, even the bathroom sometimes.

What? You’ve never participated a conference call sitting on the toilet in the wee hours of the morning with your phone on mute? C’mon.

I used to have coworking space (leasing office space shared with other entrepreneurs, consultants, contractors, remote employees and startups). Plus, I did have my home office in the garage that doubled as a guest room, but then my mother-in-law moved in with us a few years ago. It’s okay, though. We’re close. Really. Really. Close.

Today if you ask my daughters where I go to work, they respond proudly:

“Daddy goes to work on an airplane!”

And this week, that would be true. I do, in fact, travel regularly. Not every week thankfully, but when I do, I use the same collaborative communication tools I use working from home for being a remote daddy and husband – the phone, FaceTime (video calls), texting and social media.

Yes, e-mail as well, that horribly inefficient communications tool; like playing air hockey blindfolded and you don’t even know when you’ve been scored on until the score is 100 unread messages to zero returns.

Screw the zero in-box. How about zero e-mail initiatives?

Sigh. Whatever. I know we’re still going to use e-mail for years to come, but my goodness, can’t we leave on the webcams and see the whites of each other’s eyes?

KWG UnicornAt least I have my magical unicorn on this trip, one of many delightful stuffed creatures my daughter’s have me take on my business trips. In fact, as soon as I get to my hotel and I fire up FaceTime, they cry out, “Show us [this trip’s creature]!”

And so it goes. I’ve worked in offices, commuted in arterial chokeholds, leased coworking space, worked from home in my pajamas, worked from parks (but not in pajamas), worked at the beach, practically anywhere (fully clothed, I promise), including Wi-Fi high in the sky at 36,000 feet. More of my peers, friends and colleagues – entrepreneurs, consultants, marketing and sales professionals, customer service professionals, programmers and engineers, artists and writers – are also working remotely these days.

Speaking of my peers, friends and colleagues, TalentCulture #TChat Show guest, Simon Salt, author of Out of Office, shared with me the following data points on what he calls “workshifting,” another term for virtual, remote or telecommuting work:

  • Self-employed workers were nearly three times more likely than wage and salary workers to have done some work at home on days worked—56 percent compared with 20 percent.
  • Self-employed workers also were more likely to work on weekend days than were wage and salary workers—43 percent compared with 31 percent.

Not a shocker for those of us who do it, I know. Plus, the Global Workplace Analytics and the Telework Research Network estimate that 20 to 30 million Americans work from home at least one day a week and 3.1 million people (about 2.5 percent of the employee workforce) consider their home their primary workplace. SHRM research shows that nearly half (46 percent) of all companies have at least some contractors, freelancers, or remote workers who rarely, if ever, come into the office.

According to an HBR article by Tammy Johns and Lynda Gratton, many experts have also projected that within a few years, more than 1.3 billion people will work virtually. They actually lay out the virtual workforce progression very neatly:

  • Wave 1: Virtual Freelancers: through home computers and e-mail
  • Wave 2: Virtual Employees: through mobile technology and global expansion
  • Wave 3: Virtual Colleagues: new ways of providing community, collaboration and shared space

The reality is that, if you are a remote employee, or manage remote teams, workshifting is messy, and I’d argue we’re somewhere in the riptide of Wave 2. Mostly.

Even when companies source for the right virtual fit – reliability, good communication skills, sound collaborative skills, emotional intelligence, cultural sensitivity – expectations and priorities can be unclear and incomplete from the start on both sides of the employment aisle. This can lead to confusion, frustration, unhappy contractors, employees and managers alike.

And that leads to Nowheresville, Daddy-O.

Thankfully there are many great frameworks to consider when hiring and managing a virtual workforce, including Tuckman’s Team Development Stages, Lencioni’s Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Belbin’s Nine Team Roles and others, but I’ll give you my simple two-step approach that I’ve learned working through all the combinations:

  1. Start With Face-Time Framing, Then Repeat Regularly. While it may not always be realistic or necessary when working with contractors (depending upon role and scope), companies should always try to onboard new remote part-time and full-time hires in person, even if it’s only for a few days. It’s invaluable to all parties to sit down together in the same rooms and set clear, actionable priorities; discuss how exactly everyone’s going to fulfill those priorities as well as how they’re going to report on them and review them; meet and mingle with their co-workers, managers and peers (if possible); and review all the equipment and systems at their disposal like WiFi hotspots and laptops and mobile devices (fluid virtual engagement), internal social networks (real-time virtual engagement), and collaborative talent management systems (continuous formal engagement) that will be used to enable work and connection. The face-time framing should also have some frequency throughout the year – monthly, quarterly, semi-annually or at a minimum annually (although since tenure is shorter these days, you should consider more than once per year).
  2. What Have You Done For Me Lately? Oooo, oooo, oooo, yeah. The push for continuous feedback must be redoubled for your virtual workforce and those managing them. Regular check-ins must be scheduled and adhered to – no constant cancelling because managers are just to “slammed.” Everybody’s friggin’ slammed and making the time to touch base, review projects and progress is critical to driving discretionary effort and business outcomes. And whatever you do, avoid defaulting all communication to e-mail; so much is lost in translation and cultural sensitivity is usually at an all-time low in electronic memos. Pick up the phone or jump on a videoconference, preferably the latter. In fact, I even recommend keeping the webcams on, at least during agreed upon times, so co-workers and managers can stop by and disrupt you collaborate with you on whatever.

Yes, I crossed out “disrupt you,” but remember, it is messy. There’s something to be said about the collaborative nature of working together in the same office, but the dark side of that can include more disruption than productivity (you know, the gotta-minute goblins – “Hey, gotta minute?”).

Pinch me – I didn’t really need to finish this, today, at my desk. Instead, I’ll just take it home because I don’t have a life. Many of you have probably experienced the fact that your most productive times are before work, after work, and on the weekend. Not really the way most of us want to hum the work-life mantra.

But those of us working from home feel a pain of another kind in the lopsided pinch, having lots of uninterrupted productivity while feeling an invisible expectation that we need to be available anytime since we have the distinct pleasure of conference calling in our pajamas. And yet, our employers are paranoid that we’re not actually doing anything.

Yes, messy mostly, but workshifting will get better working together because we’ll all figure it out, improving engagement and productivity while all parties reap the extrinsic and intrinsic rewards of the way we’ll work and the why of it all.

Daddy’s flying home from work now, girls. Keep the corner office nook warm for me.

photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/citrixonline/5447248448/”>citrixonline</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>

#TChat Recap: How To Successfully Work From Anywhere

How To Successfully Work From Anywhere

The harsh truth about work is that its no longer bounded by office space and organizational networks. Work can be done anywhere. Just ask any remote worker you know. As long as there is a power outlet and wifi around then it’s business as usual. Remote workers are a special bunch of professionals that I know all too well. But like everyone else, they come across daily challenges that force them to transcend or come apart. This week on #TChat, we were joined by Simon Salt, six-year workshifting veteran, photographer, writer, speaker and author of Out of Office. Simon’s unique professional experience in remote working taught our community about the ins and outs of this unique professional lifestyle that’s transcending the way we work, when we work, and where we work.

But like always, when something new and different comes along, it’s met with skepticism and usually doubt. In the World of Work, transparency is measured by what is known and what can be measured. Simon, knows this all too well that:

For a brief moment, stop and ask yourself, “How often do I say or hear the word ‘trust’ at work?” Hopefully, it doesn’t leave you feeling puzzled, but trust is what binds organizations and their employees together. It is one of the key focal points that makes remote working successful. Employees crave trust and smart leadership knows how to offer it to them. Trusting remote workers is built with a unique approach to tackling work. It has to be met with:

Neither trust, nor communication can survive without each other. They’re both destined to succeed or fail together. Just like how leaders and employees are destined to find success or failure together. Both sides need to be able to communicate with each other, but that only happens when communication is kept open from both sides. That means, leaders and employees need to be accessible to each other. Work is meant to challenge us, inspire us, and drive us. Sometimes, when work takes a turn for the worse it’s because there is no dialogue between leadership and employees. While both sides are responsible and should be held accountable for executing work at a high-level, remote working:

At the end of the day, meeting deadlines comes down to being able to execute. Completing work on a remote level is dependant on having a personal strategy to doing so, because we all work differently. Remote working requires a unique level of commitment that normal office workers are not required to perform. Still, even with a high-level of commitment, remote working can only go so far without sufficient technology to help guide the way. How else can work get done without technology? For remote workers:

To be a click away, doesn’t that sound quirky and unconventional? Well not to remote workers it does. Technology helps bridge communication and accountability barriers that working remotely creates. Work can be completed from anywhere. And the truth is, organizations will eventually run out of excuses to deny or fear remote working. Time will eventually change how we all feel about remote working, whether good or bad, it is needed in order for us to grow. Work doesn’t evolve on its own. The evolution of work is dependant on whether or not we can change the way we interpret how we work, when we work, and where we work. Successful remote working exists, but not without transparency of what is expected from everyone involved.

Want To See The #TChat Replay?

Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

Thanks again to our guest: Simon Salt, six-year workshifting veteran, photographer, writer, speaker and author of Out of Office.. We appreciated your interesting and intellectual take on remote working.

#TChat Events: The HR Technology Mic Drop

TChatRadio_logo_020813 #TChat Radio — Are you plugged in to #TChat radio? Did you know you can listen live to ANY of our shows ANY time? Now you know. Click the box to head on over to our channel or listen to The HR Technology Mic Drop.

Note To Bloggers: Did this week’s events prompt you to write about trends on the engagement experience?

We welcome your thoughts. Post a link on Twitter (include #TChat or @TalentCulture), or insert a comment below, and we may feature it!

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Passive-Recruiting

photo credit: Steven Lewis via Unsplash cc

Telecommuting: 3 Honest Truths About This Profession

3 Honest Truths About This Profession

If there’s a lesson to be learned about telecommuting, is that it’s not for everyone. And why should it be? Some of us enjoy coming to work believe it or not. Perhaps, it’s because of the daily human interaction office environments offer. Others, whether by choice or necessity, have become telecommuters, and they offer an entirely new meaning to professionalism. Currently, there are an estimated 30 million Americans that are telecommuting on a daily basis. And guess what? Three million of these telecommuters have never actually stepped foot inside their company’s office. But this particular piece of information is not enough to highlight the attractive features that telecommuting offers. Telecommuting takes professionalism to a whole new level.

Telecommuting means having an entirely modern and different approach to workplace performance and engagement. It goes beyond employee perks and the obvious financial savings telecommuters offer organizations. Telecommuting is more than lounging around groovy coffee shops. It taps into employees abilities to grow and cultivate a very particular set of skills, which have been in high demand since the beginning of time. But it’s through teleworking that we discover the meaning behind these particular set of skills and how to utilize them to the maximum. We begin by learning that:

You Need To Be A Self-Motivator

The heart and soul of telecommuting does not lie in its convenience factor. While working from coffee shops is groovy and good for the soul, that’s not what motivates telecommuters. The heart and soul of telecommuting lies in its ability to change the way individuals work and feel about it. According to a PGI survey, it was discovered from a group of telecommuters that 82% of them experienced lower stress levels, 80% felt a higher sense of morale, and 70% increased their productivity. There’s something to be said about the kind of experience telecommuting offers, but the glue that holds it together is found internally through each individual, it is self-motivation that holds telecommuting together. It’s not about having an entrepreneurial spirit or experiencing “I want to be my own boss” syndrome. Telecommuting requires being a great self-motivator to get work done, because there’s no room for babysitting in this line of work.

You Have To Be A Prioritizer

Telecommuters face different obstacles than regular office workers. Since telecommuting requires a different level of commitment and meeting certain expectations, being or learning to become a great prioritizer is lifesaving. The term “boss” takes on a different meaning when you’re a telecommuter. Because technically, no one manages telecommuters but themselves. They have to be self-sufficient, because telecommuters rely heavily on prioritizing and meeting deadlines without the same kind of support that office workers have. This support, needs to allow telecommuters the free range to perform without many, if any limitations. Because the truth is, a telecommuter may be able to produce on average 43% more business volume than office workers. Anyone against this?

You Must Master Your Communication Skills

Telecommuting doesn’t work if communication is non-existent or under utilized. While most of us enjoy a good conversation located at our office water cooler, telecommuting revolves around transparent communication. Virtual meetings and daily emails help keep telecommuters in the loop, but this all falls apart when poor communication is allowed to linger. Telecommuters don’t have the option of leisurely strolling around the office to ask questions. Telecommuting starts with asking questions, but the conversation has to grow and evolve to a point where open dialogue is the star of the show. Being able to communicate your ideas, recommendations, and daily challenges is how telecommunication is mastered. Ideally, this kind of communication cannot be built unless you’re on a two-way street.

And Understand What These 3 Truths Mean…

It honestly takes a special kind of person to be a full-time telecommuter. Your work schedule is flexible, but you spend more time working. You need a strong support system built on great friendships and loving family to counteract your daily solitude. Regardless of how your organization holds you accountable, nobody can claim greater accountability on your performance than yourself. According to extensive research from Gallup, employees that spend 20% or less of their time working remotely are engaged by 35% versus employees who do not work remotely by 28%. Why this information is important, is because the research also showed that the more time individuals spend as telecommuters their level of engagement drops accordingly. Maintaining a healthy and professional telecommuter lifestyle is dependent on an individual’s ability to monitor their own engagement levels effectively. Learning the truth behind how you motivate yourself, prioritize work, and communicate with others is the difference between succeeding and failing as a telecommuter. Remember, you are your only line of defense as a telecommuter.

photo credit: Rayi Christian via Unsplash cc

Why Working Out Of Office Might Not Be For You

Working from the beach, conference calls from the pool, emailing from your back yard. All these ideal scenarios come to mind when people think of working from a non-traditional space.

While this is true for some, for many it is far from this paradise. For some it is an endless hop from coffee shop to coffee shop — moving so that they don’t outstay their welcome in any one establishment.

For others their workspace is a series of airport lounges, hotel rooms or short-term office space rentals. This doesn’t sound like paradise to me.

Beyond just location, there are a number of reasons why not working from a traditional office might not be for you, here are just some of them.

You’re too social

One of the advantages of working in an office is the social connection to co-workers. Whether you work in a large open office, cubicles or individual offices, the familiar faces that make up your day, the hallway conversations and the shared lunch table all help satisfy that most basic of human needs; to be social.

Catching up on stories from the weekend, sharing plans for vacations or even just trading ideas about business are all essential elements of the social interaction that takes place in most offices. For some individuals the solitude of working alone is too great a distraction and hampers their productivity.

You need a formal space for clients

I’m not sure about you, but if I were looking to hire an attorney and had to meet them in their living room and discuss my legal situation while their children played around our feet I might feel a little uncomfortable. Similarly if I were hoping to sign a contract with a new client meeting them at a coffee shop might not set the right tone for our future business, though of course that would depend greatly on the type of business.

The point is, for some professions and for some professionals, having a formal office space is a necessity or at the very least a nice to have. It provides the individual with a sense of separation from their personal space and life and allows them to convey a certain gravitas that more informal settings do not.

You don’t have the space

The space you set aside for working from obviously varies from individual to individual. I work from our spare room that, although it doubles as a guest room when we have people to stay, for the most part is my office. Equally I will sometimes write from the dining room table, the couch or even sitting in bed. That is part of the luxury of being a writer. However, for others the need for a more defined space is part of the work they do. For example, it isn’t really appropriate to conduct a video conference from the comfort of your bed. So having a space that can be both professional and look appropriate on camera is a need that an increasing number of out-of-office workers have to meet.

There are many other considerations to take into account before you decide to take up the out-of-office workstyle. There are however, many benefits to it and those, for most people, outweigh the negative aspects considerably.

Bio: Photographer, author, writer, and speaker Simon Salt has been working from locations that are definitely out of office for more than six years. He has been quoted by The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and various other print and online publications and has spoken to audiences across the globe. “Out of Office,” published in March 2014, is Simon’s third book, a book that will help individuals and organizations find ways to adapt to the growing trend of employees and individuals working out of office.

photo credit: Kevin H. via photopin cc

#TChat Preview: How To Successfully Work From Anywhere

The TalentCulture #TChat Show is back live on Wednesday, October 1, 2014, from 7-8 pm ET (4-5 pm PT). The #TChat radio portion runs the first 30 minutes from 7-7:30 pm ET, followed by the #TChat Twitter chat from 7:30-8 pm ET.

Last week we talked about empowering HR and the hiring process, and this week we’re going to talk about empowering your world of work wherever you work.

Because we can work from anywhere today. Some of us anyway. While there are no definitive statistics, last year a CBS News poll revealed that 24% of workers telecommuted regularly for their jobs. (How many in their pajamas you ask? Probably more than you think.)

Could be more, could be less, but the reality is that many more full-time, part-time and contract workers are not only working from home, they’re successfully working from anywhere.

Whatever the remote mix, how to do it right, what to consider before you make the “workshift,” and what technologies you’ll need to perform better, all need to be addressed.

Today’s realities include: what it takes to run a meeting from a coffee shop, managing a Skype call from 35,000 feet aboard an airplane, and juggling the demands of a domestic situation while you’re working at home all day.

Join TalentCulture #TChat Show co-creators and co-hosts Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman as we learn more about how to successfully work from anywhere with this week’s guest: Simon Salt, six-year workshifting veteran, photographer, writer, speaker and author of Out of Office.

Related Reading:

Meghan M. Biro: 5 Reasons Why Workplace Flexibility Is Smart Talent Strategy

Paula Fernandes: Inclusion, Technology Keep Remote Workers Up Close & Personal

Darius Mirshahzadeh: How To Incentivize Remote Workers

John Zappe: Why Aren’t We Training More Managers To Manage Virtual Teams?

Donna Fuscaldo: How To Stay Productive Working From Home

We hope you’ll join the #TChat conversation this week and share your questions, opinions and ideas with our guest and the TalentCulture Community.

#TChat Events: How To Successfully Work From Anywhere

TChatRadio_logo_020813#TChat Radio — Wed, October 1 — 7 pm ET / 4 pm PT Tune in to the #TChat Radio show with our host, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman, as they talk with our guest: Simon Salt.

Tune in LIVE online this Wednesday!

#TChat Twitter Chat — Wed, October 1st — 7:30 pm ET / 4:30 pm PT Immediately following the radio show, Meghan, Kevin and Simon will move to the #TChat Twitter stream, where we’ll continue the discussion with the entire TalentCulture community. Everyone with a Twitter account is invited to participate, as we gather for a dynamic live chat, focused on these related questions:

Q1: What are the perceptions companies have about virtual workplaces? #TChat (Tweet this Question)

Q2: How does technology help telecommuters stay successfully integrated with work? #TChat (Tweet this Question)

Q3: When does telecommuting not work and why? #TChat (Tweet this Question)

Throughout the week, we’ll keep the discussion going on the #TChat Twitter feed, and in our new TalentCulture G+ community. So feel free to drop by anytime and share your questions, ideas and opinions. See you there!!

photo credit: danielfoster437 via photopin

Putting a Face on Remote Work #TChat Recap

Say, “Good Morning.”

Go ahead. Say it out loud. Oh, but say it to someone else. Preferably in the morning. In person. Or on the phone. Or even online.

If it’s later in the day, maybe you can say, “Good Afternoon.” Or “I’m going to grab a bite to eat” when you leave for lunch.

Or when you want feedback on an idea, simply ask, “Gotta minute?”

Face-to-face — keyboard-to-keyboard — whatever it takes. Human interactions are the glue that keeps us all grounded and helps us get work done. And these days more than ever, more of us are getting more work done remotely.

Collaboration platforms, video conferencing, social networks — even our phones — these are the tools that keep us connected and empowered, wherever we roam in today’s fluid world of work.

These technologies help us plan and problem solve more efficiently than ever. Of course, they can also help us interrupt and disrupt workflows. It may be harder to be a dreaded “gotta-minute” goblin when you work from home, but it still happens.

So seriously. Gotta minute? Because it’s those disruptive, frictionless human connections, those moments when we’re relating to one another personally and professionally – that’s what keep us moving forward, together. The connections may be virtual, but the results are real.

As we explored the virtual work frontier this week with #TChat guest Mike Hostetler, Founder and CEO of appendTo, two core themes emerged:

1) Be yourself: Whether you operate from home or a centralized office, it’s essential to “show up” and be authentic. Acknowledge me throughout the day. Keep me in the loop on the good, the bad and the ugly — and don’t be afraid to tell me why. That’s the stuff that binds us in a common mission, even through rough times. Paychecks are great, but there’s no substitute for genuine human connection and shared purpose.

2) See yourself: When you work virtually, don’t forget that, in the eyes of your colleagues and managers, you’re part of something larger than yourself. It’s smart to invest in that context. It may mean periodic in-person visits to the headquarters “mothership,” or catching up at conferences and training events, or even regular (perhaps awkward) team video conferences. It may not always be fun, but the effort can make a big difference in the quality of your performance and your team’s results.

So let’s learn from the wisdom of our talent-minded crowd, and let’s stay connected. OK?
“Good morning, #TChat. How are you doing today?”

#TChat Week-In-Review: Remote Work Continues to Rise

SAT 1/11:

Mike Hostetler

Watch the #TChat Preview hangout

#TChat Preview: TalentCulture Community Manager, Tim McDonald, framed the week’s topic in a post featuring a “sneak peek” hangout with guest, Mike Hostetler, Founder and CEO of appendTo. See the #TChat Preview now: “Virtual Workplace? For Real!

SUN 1/12:

Forbes.com Post: TalentCulture CEO, Meghan M. Biro discussed what’s at stake for leaders as the future of work becomes increasingly virutal. Read “Telecommuting Is The Future Of Work.

RECENT RELATED POSTS:

Telecommuting: 5 Ways Companies Benefit” by Daniel Newman
Telecommuting Tools: What’s Your Plan?” by Dr. Nancy Rubin

WED 1/15:

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Listen now to the #TChat Radio replay

#TChat Radio: Hosts Meghan M. Biro, and Kevin W. Grossman talked with entrepreneur Mike Hostetler about what it takes to create and sustain successful virtual teams. Listen to the #TChat Radio replay…

#TChat Twitter: Immediately following the radio show, Meghan, Kevin and Mike joined the TalentCulture community on the #TChat Twitter stream for a dynamic open conversation, centered on 5 related questions. See highlights in the Storify slideshow below:

#TChat Insights: Virtual Workplace? For Real!

[javascript src=”//storify.com/TalentCulture/virtual-workplace-for-real.js?template=slideshow”]

Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

GRATITUDE: Thanks again to Mike Hostetler for sharing your perspectives on creating and managing remote teams. We value your time, your thoughtful ideas and your expertise!

NOTE TO BLOGGERS: Did this week’s events prompt you to write about remote workgroups? We welcome your thoughts. Post a link on Twitter (include #TChat or @TalentCulture), or insert a comment below, and we’ll pass it along.

WHAT’S AHEAD: Our month of forward-thinking #TChat Events continues on Wednesday, January 22, when China Gorman, CEO at Great Place To Work, reveals emerging trends in employment practices, with illustrations from Fortune Magazine’s recently announced “2014 Best Companies To Work For” list. See the #TChat Radio preview now.

Meanwhile, the TalentCulture conversation continues daily on the #TChat Twitter stream, our LinkedIn discussion group. and elsewhere on social media. So join us anytime — don’t be shy.

We’ll see you on the stream!

Image Credit: Stock.xchng

Telecommuting Tools: What’s Your Plan?

Virtual teams are truly gaining ground in today’s workplace, thanks to the convergence of three factors:

1) More employers recognize the value of flexible work models,
2) Workers are open to remote options, and
3) New cloud-based technologies make it easy to connect, communicate and collaborate.

Many employers now allow members of their workforce to operate entirely from home — while other companies support more limited forms of telecommuting.

Telework = Serious Savings

There are compelling business reasons why organizations and individuals should evaluate this trend. According to research compiled by Global Workplace Analytics, 50 million U.S. employees have jobs that are compatible with telecommuting, and are willing to pursue it at some level. It’s estimated that, each year, if all those who are able and willing worked from home even half of the time, a typical employer would save $11,000 per person, while the typical telecommuter would save $2,000-$7,000.

But regardless of how much money telecommuting can save, one thing is certain — it’s essential to invest in viable technology to ensure that remote workers can succeed in their role.

110727_GIST_The_Mobile_Worker4

See the infographic and more details at Mashable

3 Keys to a Telework Technology Plan

Before assuming which tools are ideal, it’s wise to look for helpful insights from workstyle studies. For example, a 2011 study by GIST profiles remote work behavior across multiple dimensions — identifying locations remote workers prefer, and revealing how they accomplish tasks on the go.

Of course, every business is unique, but when you develop a detailed technology plan for virtual workers, it’s essential to consider three key elements: communication, collaboration and connections. Here are some ideas to kick-start your process:

Communication: There are many technologies remote workers can use to stay in touch with team members, managers, customers, and others. Email probably remains the most common communication channel, but text messaging, chat, and instant messaging are also useful when people need to discuss projects, status and other issues in real-time. The good news is that many of those tools work in tandem or on top of popular workplace communications applications.

Skype and similar audio and video conferencing tools are highly affordable, reliable and are easy to deploy and support. They’re ideal for everything from small group meetings and business presentations, to more formal conference-like events. Google+ Communities and Hangouts are also gaining popularity as simple, freely available tools to help groups connect and discuss topics and projects via audio and video, with file sharing and social tools that enhance and extend those discussions.

Collaboration: Remote workers need tools that help them work together with others to generate ideas, solve problems and manage group projects. Google Docs is a great way to co-create content and share information among team members on an ongoing basis. Also, Dropbox and other cloud storage services are popular for exchanging, organizing and archiving content (especially larger files), and for easily accessing content while on the go.

Connections: With today’s vast array of freely available social media and cloud software solutions, keeping your workforce securely and reliably connected is becoming remarkably easy to do. Intranets provide dedicated virtual spaces that help distributed teams work together asynchronously, using embedded social tools to interact. And integrated suites of cloud-based tools like Google Apps for Business help workers easily create, share and manage all kinds of business documents and communications. To learn more about Google Apps for Business, watch this video overview:

Staying Ahead of the Curve

Whether you tap into new web-based tools, or you extend applications that your company already uses in-house, a technology plan is one way to be sure that all your remote contributors stay focused and productive, no matter where or when they’re working. The pace of cloud software innovation is so rapid, your biggest challenge may be staying ahead of new technology developments. However, your efforts should pay off, with telecommuters that are highly efficient and engaged in their jobs.

Your Turn

Does your company encourage telework arrangements? What tech-related issues do your remote teams face? What tools do you recommend to others?

(Editor’s Note: To discuss World of Work topics like this with the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat Events each Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome at weekly events, or join our ongoing Twitter conversation anytime. Learn more…)

Image Credit: Pixabay

Telecommuting Tools: What's Your Plan?

Virtual teams are truly gaining ground in today’s workplace, thanks to the convergence of three factors:

1) More employers recognize the value of flexible work models,
2) Workers are open to remote options, and
3) New cloud-based technologies make it easy to connect, communicate and collaborate.

Many employers now allow members of their workforce to operate entirely from home — while other companies support more limited forms of telecommuting.

Telework = Serious Savings

There are compelling business reasons why organizations and individuals should evaluate this trend. According to research compiled by Global Workplace Analytics, 50 million U.S. employees have jobs that are compatible with telecommuting, and are willing to pursue it at some level. It’s estimated that, each year, if all those who are able and willing worked from home even half of the time, a typical employer would save $11,000 per person, while the typical telecommuter would save $2,000-$7,000.

But regardless of how much money telecommuting can save, one thing is certain — it’s essential to invest in viable technology to ensure that remote workers can succeed in their role.

110727_GIST_The_Mobile_Worker4

See the infographic and more details at Mashable

3 Keys to a Telework Technology Plan

Before assuming which tools are ideal, it’s wise to look for helpful insights from workstyle studies. For example, a 2011 study by GIST profiles remote work behavior across multiple dimensions — identifying locations remote workers prefer, and revealing how they accomplish tasks on the go.

Of course, every business is unique, but when you develop a detailed technology plan for virtual workers, it’s essential to consider three key elements: communication, collaboration and connections. Here are some ideas to kick-start your process:

Communication: There are many technologies remote workers can use to stay in touch with team members, managers, customers, and others. Email probably remains the most common communication channel, but text messaging, chat, and instant messaging are also useful when people need to discuss projects, status and other issues in real-time. The good news is that many of those tools work in tandem or on top of popular workplace communications applications.

Skype and similar audio and video conferencing tools are highly affordable, reliable and are easy to deploy and support. They’re ideal for everything from small group meetings and business presentations, to more formal conference-like events. Google+ Communities and Hangouts are also gaining popularity as simple, freely available tools to help groups connect and discuss topics and projects via audio and video, with file sharing and social tools that enhance and extend those discussions.

Collaboration: Remote workers need tools that help them work together with others to generate ideas, solve problems and manage group projects. Google Docs is a great way to co-create content and share information among team members on an ongoing basis. Also, Dropbox and other cloud storage services are popular for exchanging, organizing and archiving content (especially larger files), and for easily accessing content while on the go.

Connections: With today’s vast array of freely available social media and cloud software solutions, keeping your workforce securely and reliably connected is becoming remarkably easy to do. Intranets provide dedicated virtual spaces that help distributed teams work together asynchronously, using embedded social tools to interact. And integrated suites of cloud-based tools like Google Apps for Business help workers easily create, share and manage all kinds of business documents and communications. To learn more about Google Apps for Business, watch this video overview:

Staying Ahead of the Curve

Whether you tap into new web-based tools, or you extend applications that your company already uses in-house, a technology plan is one way to be sure that all your remote contributors stay focused and productive, no matter where or when they’re working. The pace of cloud software innovation is so rapid, your biggest challenge may be staying ahead of new technology developments. However, your efforts should pay off, with telecommuters that are highly efficient and engaged in their jobs.

Your Turn

Does your company encourage telework arrangements? What tech-related issues do your remote teams face? What tools do you recommend to others?

(Editor’s Note: To discuss World of Work topics like this with the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat Events each Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome at weekly events, or join our ongoing Twitter conversation anytime. Learn more…)

Image Credit: Pixabay

Virtual Workplace? For Real! #TChat Preview

(Editor’s Note: Looking for a full recap and resource links from this week’s #TChat Events? See the #TChat Recap: “Putting a Face on Remote Work.”)

Distributed workforce. Virtual team. Telecommuting.

Whatever term you use to describe remote work models, the concept continues to gain momentum in today’s business environment — and with good reason.

High-speed connections, mobile technology and cloud-based collaboration tools now make it easy and cost effective for people to “go to work” anytime, from almost anywhere.

XJyGYBut infrastructure and good intentions, alone, don’t guarantee that virtual organizations will be productive and profitable. So, what does it take? That’s the focus of  #TChat Events this week, as we look at why and how successful virtual teams really work.

And what better way to explore this topic than with an entrepreneur whose business is driven entirely by remote contributors? Our guest this week is Mike Hostetler, Founder and CEO of appendTo, a highly successful web engineering firm, powered by a far-flung workforce.

“Sneak Peek” Hangout: Trifecta of Awesomeness

To kick-off this week’s discussion, Mike joined me for a G+ Hangout, where he outlined the “trifecta of awesomeness” — three key reasons why the virtual workplace is taking hold:

What are your thoughts about how to build and manage awesome virtual organizations? This week, we’re seeking wisdom from the crowd — so share your ideas and opinions with the #TChat virtual community!

#TChat Events: Why Remote Work Continues to Rise

#TChat Radio — Wed, Jan 15 — 6:30pmET / 3:30pmPT

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Tune-in to the #TChat Radio Show

Our hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman talk with Mike Hostetler about what it takes to create and sustain successful virtual workplaces. Tune-in LIVE online this Wednesday!

#TChat Twitter — Wed, Jan 15 7pmET / 4pmPT

Immediately following the radio show, Meghan, Kevin and Mike will move to the #TChat Twitter stream, where the entire TalentCulture community will join the discussion. Everyone with a Twitter account is invited to participate, as we address these 5 related questions:

Q1: What are the pros and cons of virtual workplaces?
Q2: How do remote work models affect employee and customer engagement?
Q3: What factors should leaders consider when creating virtual teams?
Q4: How can recruiters identify traits of successful remote workers?
Q5: How can we apply technology to foster virtual collaboration?

We look forward to hearing your ideas and opinions, as talent-minded professionals who care about the human side of business.

Throughout the week, we’ll keep the discussion going on the #TChat Twitter feed, and on our LinkedIn Discussion Group. So feel free to drop by anytime and share your questions, ideas and opinions.

We’ll see you on the stream!

Telecommuting: 5 Ways Companies Benefit

Last year, when Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer banned telecommuting for her employees, the decision stirred a vigorous debate about whether it’s valid for any business to let employees work from home.

As I see it, any organization can boost the personal and professional productivity of its workforce through telecommuting. And the more widely it is embraced, the better for the company.

Therefore, it’s a smart move to integrate technologies that make the work-from-home process smoother and more seamless.

Telecommuting Success: It’s More Than Technology

However, simply putting new technology into place and allowing your workforce to telecommute won’t make your business productive. Successful virtual work initiatives still require effective management. Leaders need to engage team members (as if they were physically at the office) and make sure they are kept in the loop, so they remain psychologically and socially connected, even when they don’t share a physical office space.

5 Key Business Benefits

But that said, when virtual work options are implemented appropriately, the advantages are abundant. For example, here are five major ways companies can benefit:

1) Morale: Happier employees get more done. In many cities, employees deal with a grinding commute, only to sit in an office where they interact very little with their coworkers. Whether the telecommuting arrangement is permanent or just a weekly flex day, the reduced travel and stress can provide a tremendous boost in employee morale.

2) Talent Acquisition: This can be a significant advantage in both large and small markets, because the best talent isn’t always within driving distance. This is certainly affected by the scope of the position, but businesses that don’t require day-to-day physical access to a shared office can benefit by finding the best candidates, regardless of physical location. Telecommuting lets companies choose from a much larger talent pool when it’s time to recruit for open positions.

3) Productivity: If you have ever worked remotely you probably know that you can accomplish much more when the conditions are right. At many offices, constant distractions mean less work gets done than the company desires. While face-to-face camaraderie may help employees build relationships, beyond small talk, there isn’t much that can be accomplished sitting in a meeting room that can’t be accomplished from a distance, using collaboration tools.

4) Flexibility: Trying to bring teams together in the same space and time isn’t necessarily easier because everyone travels to a central office. The technology that companies adopt to enable telecommuting allows teams to collaborate in real time from anywhere members are located. Participants can access teleconferencing, web conferencing and telepresence from almost anywhere. So when people can’t be in the same physical place, the meeting will still go on.

5) Adoption: I have said this for as long as I can remember: ”Eat your own dog food!” Any business that considers itself a high-tech organization should adopt tools, structures and processes required for successful telecommuting. What’s more, these capabilities should be  promoted as a way the workforce can achieve maximum productivity and work-life balance. Using this technology day in and day out can truly bring the organization closer. And the value of that connection can be priceless, as it translates to better selling, delivery and support of the solutions your customers need.

What other ways can organizations benefit from telecommuting? Does your company allow telecommuting? If not, why? Share your opinions and ideas in the comments below.

(Editor’s Note: This post was adapted with permission from an article written for and published in Commercial Integrator Magazine and republished by Millennial CEO.)

(Also Note: To discuss World of Work topics like this with the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat Events each Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome at events, or join our ongoing Twitter conversation anytime. Learn more…)

Image Credit: Stock.xchng

Flexible Work And The Power of Choice #TChat Recap

Working “In The Zone”

Think for a moment about your ideal work scenario. Look beyond the substance of the work, itself. Instead, focus on structure, and flow, and surroundings. Think about the “how” and the “when” and the “where” that make it possible to perform well.

What does it feel like to operate in your most productive way? And how often do you actually achieve that level of focus and energy? Is something standing between you and your vision? If so, how could you or your employer close the gap?

Of course, each of us has a unique work/life narrative. And there are countless ways to create an effective fit between professional responsibilities and personal pursuits. But anything is possible, as long as we’re empowered to make choices that work for us and for those who need our talent.

Straight Ahead: No Boundaries

Did I just hear a chuckle from the cynical side of the house? Granted, I see blue sky in the forecast. But this week’s #TChat forums indicate that flexible options aren’t just an isolated phenomenon or a passing fancy. Instead, soon we should expect many more workers to find  flexibility within reach. Why? Consider these points:

1) The concept of work, itself, is being radically redefined — as Jason Fried, founder of the productivity application company, 37Signals, explained in this compelling TED Talk:

2) Employers are waking up and recognizing the business value of flexible work options. And, as many #TChat participants suggested, ROI can be measured in multiple ways. For example:

(For more thought-provoking tweets, see the #TChat highlights slideshow at the end of this post.)

3) Our expert guests are evidence that flexible options are gaining credibility and momentum. Both are leading the way in today’s work/life fit movement. They shared real-world perspectives about why these initiatives are gaining traction, along with tips to “make it work.”

Lisa Horn, Co-Leader of SHRM’s Workplace Flexibility Initiative and a SHRM Senior Government Relations Advisor;
Susan Lovegren, SVP of HR at Plantronics, a leading-edge technology company that offers “Smarter Working” choices.

(Hear details in the #TChat Radio show listed in the week’s resource list, below.)

4) The backlash has begun. You know a business practice is becoming legitimate when  nay-sayers appear at the gates. Ironically, just this week HR Executive Online reported on “next wave” research: “Non-Remote Workers Jealous of Telecommuters.” Why leave anyone behind? As our #TChat Radio guests explained, even when telecommuting isn’t practical, flexibility can come in other forms.

5) Key takeaway — change is a two-way street. Whatever is ahead in the realm of flexible work, it’s clear that change is needed on both sides of the employment contract. As this nested tweet suggests:

Thanks to everyone in the TalentCulture community who contributed opinions and ideas at this week’s #TChat events! We invite you to review highlights in the slideshow below, along with other related resources — and we look forward to expanding this conversation, as work/life blend issues continue to shape today’s workplace!

#TChat Week-In-Review: The Flexible World Of Work

SUN 8/18:

Forbes.com Post: To kickstart the conversation, TalentCulture CEO, Meghan M. Biro challenged business leaders to recognize the value of flexible work options. Read: “5 Reasons Why Workplace Flexibility Is a Smart Business Strategy.”

MON 8/19:

#TChat Preview: Our Community Manager, Tim McDonald, expanded on the week’s topic and events in his preview post: “Reworking The 9-to-5 Office Job.”

TUE 8/20:

Related Post: TalentCulture blog contributor, Heather Huhman, offered a snapshot of today’s flexible workforce trends with an infographic post: “5 Reasons To Hire Flexible Talent.”

WED 8/21:

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Listen now to the #TChat Radio show

#TChat Radio: In a highly informative warm-up to the Twitter conversation, Lisa and Susan joined our hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman to discuss key issues and opportunities surrounding flexible work options, and how the concept translates into organizational life at Plantronics. Listen now to the radio show recording.

#TChat Twitter: Immediately following the radio show, our entire community gathered on the #TChat Twitter stream for an open discussion about work/life fit from many points of view. To see highlights, check out the Storify slideshow below:

#TChat Highlights: Workplace Flexibility As A Business Strategy

[javascript src=”//storify.com/TalentCulture/tchat-insights-workplace-flexibility-as-a-busines.js?template=slideshow”]

Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

GRATITUDE: Thanks again to Lisa Horn  and Susan Lovegren for generously sharing insights about flexibility initiatives and work/life blend issues. You’ve opened our eyes to new aspects of this critical business trend.

NOTE TO BLOGGERS: Did this week’s events prompt you to write about flexible work arrangements or work/life fit issues? We’d love to share your thoughts. Post a link on Twitter (include #TChat or @TalentCulture), or insert a comment below, and we’ll pass it along.

WHAT’S AHEAD: Next week, our “summer restart” series concludes, as author Bob Burg joins us to  look at entrepreneurial endeavors within corporate environments. So plan to join us, and check for details this weekend on TalentCulture social channels.

In the meantime, the World of Work conversation continues everyday. So join us on the #TChat Twitter stream, on our LinkedIn discussion group. or on other social channels. And feel free to explore our redesigned website. The lights are always on here at TalentCulture, and your ideas and opinions are always welcome.

See you on the stream!

Image Credit: Stock.xchng

5 Reasons To Hire Flexible Talent

Having a hard time finding the right employee for the job? You may be looking at the wrong group of candidates. According to recent reports, hiring within the flexible job market has steadily increased over the past 12 months. In addition, employers plan to hire more flexible workers this year than any other year before.

So, why is it in your best interest to consider flexible workers?

This infographic, compiled by Hourly (an employment network that quickly matches people who are interested in flexible positions with the right opportunities), illustrates why the flexible talent pool is the group to watch. Some noteworthy takeaways:

  • 40% of employers plan to hire temp workers this year, and more than 80% plan to increase their flexible workforce;
  • 25 million Americans work part-time, 20 million telecommute, and 10 million are independent contractors;
  • 39% of temporary workers will transition into full-time jobs.

If you’re an employer, what role do flexible workers play in your talent strategy? Or, if you’re on the other side of the table, as part of the flexible workforce, tell us how flexible options have helped or hindered you.

Check out the full infographic below, and share your thoughts in the comments section!

What do you think? What are some other reasons to hire flexible workers?

(Image Credit: Nicole LaPointe-McKay)
(Note: Gumby is a trademark of Premavision Inc/Clokey Productions)

Reworking The 9-to-5 Office Job #TChat Preview

(Editor’s Note: Are you looking for a full recap of this week’s #TChat events and resources? Read “Flexible Work And The Power Of Choice.“)

Old habits die hard. At least it seems that way, with the classic view that “real work” only happens in a 9-to-5 office setting.

The rise of global networks and mobile technology now makes it possible to move work outside of traditional time-and-space boundaries. But organizational support is essential to the success of any alternative work model. And corporate culture doesn’t always change easily.

Flexibility: Bigger Than A Benefit

Fortunately, this hurdle is no longer stopping progressive companies from offering flexible work options. And it’s making a measurable difference where a flexible environment is considered more than just an attractive employee benefit.

In short, the idea of customized work hours and locations is emerging as a highly effective business strategy. Contrary to old-school perceptions, flexwork has been shown to improve productivity. It also reduces operating costs (thanks to decreased absenteeism, turnover, real estate requirements, utilities and other expenses).

Furthermore, it can improve an organization’s ability to win and retain talent, and boost employee engagement. In this era of persistently poor engagement levels, that just might give your organization a much-needed competitive edge.

What Do Experts Say?

This week at #TChat Events, let’s talk about how employers and employees, alike, can make the most of work that is more broadly distributed across time and space. Two experts in flexible work options are joining us to share their insights:

•  Lisa Horn, Co-Leader of SHRM’s Workplace Flexibility Initiative and a SHRM Senior Government Relations Advisor;
•  Susan Lovegren, SVP of HR at Plantronics, a leading-edge technology company that recently launched a “Smarter Working” initiative.

This topic matters to all of us who care about the future of work. So bring your best ideas, questions and concerns to the conversation!

#TChat Events: Workplace Flexibility As A Business Strategy

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Tune-in to #TChat Radio

#TChat Radio — Wed, Aug 21 at 6:30pmET / 3:30pmPT

Lisa and Susan join our hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman to discuss key issues and opportunities surrounding flexible work options. Listen LIVE and dial-in with your questions and feedback!

#TChat Twitter — Wed, Aug 21 at 7pmET / 4pmPT

Immediately following the radio show, we’ll move to the #TChat Twitter stream, for an open the discussion with the entire TalentCulture community. Anyone with a Twitter account is invited to participate, as we address these questions:

Q1: Why is telecommuting still a “bad word” in the workplace?
Q2: What world of work factors are driving increased flexibility?
Q3: Why should business leaders make workplace flexibility a business strategy?
Q4: What is the true ROI of working from anywhere, anytime?
Q5: What technologies enable workplace flexibility? What’s still missing?

To kickstart the conversation, be sure to read Meghan M. Biro’s Forbes post, “5 Reasons Why Workplace Flexibility Is a Smart Business Strategy.” What are your thoughts about her commentary?

Throughout the week, we’ll keep this discussion going on the #TChat Twitter feed and on our new LinkedIn Discussion Group. So please join us share your questions, ideas and opinions.

We’ll see you on the stream!

Image Credit: Stock.xchng