I just watched Citrix’s webinar that they co-hosted with workshifting.com and gotomypc.com on “Thinking Outside the Cubicle:  The Evolving 21st-Century Virtual Office”. It certainly wasn’t a good webinar, but I did stick through most of it because I’m so hungry for anything that looks at how people are working, are going to be working and the organization implications of working from anywhere.  My forecast is that in the next 5 years we won’t be searching for the right label for this (is it workshifting? working remotely? virtually? off-site? outa-sight?), because it will be so normal and built in to our work processes and organization norms. Telecommuting (yet another term) has increased 39% since 2007 in the US — and it will keep on growing.  The best nugget out of this webinar was a quote from Ted Schadler, an analyst at Forrester Research, who says this evolvement “will force firms to expand their digital footprints, harness social software, crisply define their culture and examine their real estate and energy policies.”

Yep – and as the social software improves so that people can truly collaborate, seeing and hearing each other in such high-definition that they can sense when someone’s getting agitated, more organizations and more individuals will embrace working from wherever.  Particularly as those employees born after 1985 come on board; organizations in which employees can work from anywhere realize that the most productive workplaces, especially for younger employees, isn’t about control — it’s about clear expectations, flexibility, respect, responsibility and technology that supports work processes.

We’ve worked virtually for a 100 years – ok, for 16 years, and we worked well with colleagues and clients all over North America. But since the advent of webcams and screensharing (even yuuguu.com – it’s free – terrific), my productivity has increased dramatically.  “Seeing” someone and being able to work on documents together? Fabulous!

Another REALLY interesting tidbit from this session was that those organizations pushing forward with telecommuting don’t talk about it, or “come to the podium” at conferences about their strategies, technologies and results related to employees working outside a formal physical structure. Hm….interesting. Maybe because, as the speaker said, telework highlights and provides solutions to “deficits” in the work processes.  Things that were tolerated “aren’t” and can’t be in telework — things must be explicit and “made visible”.

In terms of what technology is critical for productive telework? Remote access to the files is the NUMBER ONE, even higher than instant messaging.  Understandable.

If you’re interested in this, contact me – & have a look at The Future of Work: Flexible Work – Rhetoric & Reality.