1. Its not about the tools. Its about the people.
Rhonda Lowry the VP of Emerging Social Web Technologies at Turner Broadcasting hit the nail on the head pretty early on into the conference when she pointed out that we are moving away being ‘document centric’ into more ‘human-centric’ culture ’. Organizations need to start focusing less on forcing adoption of tools on people and remain open to the choices that their employees are making. She pointed out that ‘absolute adoption’ is death as tools are constantly changing. We also need to find ‘naked intellectualist’ people that are not afraid to walk around and are afraid to what they don’t know.
The threat behind a ‘human centric’ approach is the silo issue where vital data and information could be trapped preventing future sharing and growth. This was too big of a conversation to have in a ten minute period but some points of interest that arose were that managing knowledge and contacts are business importance while managing security is compliance importance. These are two separate issues that both need to be considered by organizations when making technology decisions. The conversation touched upon the increased need of standardization so data can be understood by various solutions. Also there was a recognition that collaboration between bigger tech companies needed to continue to happen.
2. Independent workers are becoming the workforce of the future
Gene Zaino (President and CEO of MBO Partners) gave a very informative presentation on independent workers. In the US today there are 16 million individuals working independently. Technology has eliminated challenges around being closer to work making businesses more agile and we now view work in terms of ‘projects’ rather than as ‘jobs’. This new approach to work is allowing us to distribute work to a distributed human supply chain.
Services like Odesk are facilitating this trend. Gary Swart the CEO of oDesk talked about how the job force has evolved from a 1.0 model to a 3.0 model. The traditional hiring process made finding a job very competitive and expensive whereas now there are services available for individuals to market themselves and work from home. Technology, access to broadband, and globalization is facilitating this transformation.
3. Working from home can increase work/life balance
Dr. Carolyn Axtell - Institute of Work Psychology, The University of Sheffield and Barbara Nelson - CTO, iPass participated in a panel about remote working. According to their study they found that employees that work from home tend to enjoy the following benefits:
- better work/life balance
- less work-related stress; more relaxed employees
- the ability to work more efficiently in shorter periods of time;
- better use of ‘dead-time’ (ie. answering emails while waiting in the doctors office)
- spend a reduced number of working hours online even though they have increased access to
- technology allows people to get online and move the ball along and complete more focused work.
Although there are many benefits its quite easy to fall into the bucket of working extended hours. Research on working extended hours show that people tend to make more mistakes and are more fatigued. People that are working 15-20 hours extra over the week were most likely to say they were connected over the holidays because they thought they were expected to be online.
In order to prevent overworking workers might consider adopting transition strategies after their workday which may include: separate work/personal email addresses, blocking off work time in your calender, and creating end of day rituals.
4. Co-working space facilitate productivity, information sharing, and creativity
Another big trend is working in co-working spaces. Independent workers can re-create the work environment by working in a shared space. Don Ball - Co-Founder, CoCo coworking and collaborative space, Mark Gilbreath - Founder and CEO, LiquidSpace, Steve King - Partner, Emergent Research, and Jennifer Magnolfi - Advanced R&D Projects Lead Consultant, Herman Miller participated in panel about co-working. Co-working can help prevent the isolation of remote working. Based on their collective experience it seems that people come for a space to work but stay for the people. Co-working offers more than just a place to work there is also a strong cultural aspect and sharing that occurs. For example, someone might happen to sit next to an SEO expert providing them access to an expertise they may not have access to when working alone. Another point shared was that there is a strong level of focus in a shared space. People are coming there to work and don’t have to deal with the distractions of home or trying to work at a Starbucks. Its not only freelancers who are seeing the benefits of co-working some larger organizations are now starting to send departments or sub-sections of organizations to co-working spaces to help increase creativity.