Do you think the days when new hires will not come into the office for training is far away? I’ve done it two years ago and I’ve done it again these days. It’s true it was an internal hiring but all training has been delivered virtually: video conferencing and practice based assessments. Some eLearnings are also on their way… Because the rites of social media are so familiar to many employees, I can establish working relationships faster than ever with members of my remote teams.
As a recent McKinsey study shows, virtual approaches to work are attractive to a wide array of employees, including working mothers, older workers, and younger, Generation Y professionals who want flexible lifestyles from the start. Younger workers are often particularly suited to work remotely, having grown up socializing and collaborating online. “They don’t want to work 9 to 5,” says Bonny Simi, vice president of talent at JetBlue, “and it doesn’t matter to me if they work better from six at night until three in the morning or if they can do the work in six hours instead of eight.” (McKinsey Quarterly – “Preparing for a new era of knowledge work”).
Employers first began ramping up their use of remote-work arrangements in the 1990s. As technology evolved, companies such as IBM found they could eliminate permanent offices for their sales force and other customer-facing employees. Consulting companies also made a better use of “open-spaces” since partially their staff have to be on client site anyway.
Such moves yielded huge cost savings on real estate while increasing the time consultants could spend with customers. Now, thanks to broadband, cloud computing, and a burgeoning market for online collaboration tools, many more jobs that once required “face to face” interactions can be performed anywhere. These jobs range from insurance claims processors to law associates and corporate workers in functions such as finance or knowledge management.
In fact, by some estimates perhaps one-quarter of all US jobs could be performed remotely, and in McKinsey’s 2011 survey of 2,000 US businesses, one-quarter of them said they planned to use more remote workers in the future. Are you going to be one?