Distance – friend or foe?

Do you have a colleague in your team whom you only get to see few times a month or possibly even several times a year? Possibly your manager is a frequent traveler too who shuffles between offices in 2 or more cities. Maybe it’s you who spends most of the time working from your home office.

Sounds familiar? I’m sure it does because, we’re experiencing a period of transformation into a new way of working and this new way is mostly defined with one magic word – “Flexibility”.

More and more companies offer flexible working hours or location where employees don’t have to follow a strict 8 to 5 schedule or they don’t have to call at the office every day having to cross entire city spending hours in commute. Listed below are certain benefits of flexibility:

Employee satisfaction – people feel more relaxed doing their work, they can focus on their tasks, avoid distraction, they can spare more time and money for their personal lives, achieve better work and life balance.

Environment – less commuting means less traffic congestion. That simple it is and for big cities it is a genuine relief of several pressure points.

Real estate cost – businesses can actually save money on office rent. They can utilize their existing space without the need of expansion if people don’t have to be there every day or explore options offered by the growing market of co-working spaces aka “office hotels” (a rather archaic name for those and not used much anymore).

Relocation [cost] – it’s not always necessary to relocate people when assigning them new roles. Companies can save on expatriation costs while employees may feel more satisfied by the fact of being able to stay home, with their families and friends. This is related with the first point too. Moreover, they can keep contributing to their local communities by spending what they earn, in many cases have a much better income to expenses ratio.

HOWEVER, is everything so green and pink? Are there no implications? Certainly, there are and those are related with distance itself. Despite the preaching of flexible working across the business world, not every company and not every Manager fancies such change. Well, first of all, it’s a natural reaction to any change – resistance. Secondly, Managers still not sure how to stay on top of their team members that are scattered all over. There’s still anxiety over working hour compliance, productivity and performance management in general.

You may assume this is about old-school management styles and things will change for the better. There’s good and bad news there. Good one is that mindset is changing and as more Millennials are stepping into managerial roles, they will feel more comfortable in this new environment, though, will they?

Bad one is that the whole infrastructure around us is not developing in a coherent manner. Which brings us to culmination of this article.

Tools & Culture – flexibility requires agility which is a matter of collaboration and communication. How can you stay effective within your professional context being far from co-workers, having irregular working hours?

To be continued…

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