Technology at Work: How to Make the Most of the Anywhere Worker
It’s no secret that the modern concept of the workplace is considerably different than it was 50 years ago. In fact, it’s markedly different than it was 30, 20 or even just 10 years previous. There’s no mistaking it: technology at work has changed how people do business in a dramatic way. With the advent of wireless communication and Internet connectivity, a new phenomenon is developing, and it is the rise of the Anywhere Worker.
Who is the Anywhere Worker
Emily Nagle Green penned Anywhere: How Global Connectivity is Revolutionizing the Way We Do Business. In this book, Emily describes the so called Anywhere Worker as the type of industrious individual capable of harnessing technology in order to remain productive, without regard to the physical location of a workplace. Additionally, she notes that Anywhere Workers are also those most willing and able to take responsibility for the technology at work which they rely on, often shunning the need for dedicated IT specialists.
As consumer devices become both more advanced and more affordable, one can naturally assume that greater numbers of young people will enter into the workforce with existing competency and ready-made capability. Companies enjoy the benefit of being able to hire from a pool of applicants far outside their local boundaries, workers gain access to more job opportunities and while certain factors (such as performance evaluation and accountability) might be compromised, the potential benefits often outweigh the drawbacks.
Moving Toward the Future
An August 2015 Gallup poll shows that 37% of workers have used a computer to telecommute at one time or another, a 28% jump from surveys conducted in 1995. What’s more, 9% of workers stated that they telecommute 10 days or more in an average month, with a combined 19% working between two and nine days remotely. Some of the reasons for this trend are actually quite simple to understand.
In addition to the instant expansion of a company’s potential talent pool, the concept of the Anywhere Worker allows businesses to save big on overhead costs. Often times, only higher-level employees or executives are equipped with the kind of technology at work needed to achieve the most efficient or effective performance. Budget limitations place virtual shackles on many organizations, but those which have been more receptive to outside technology (such as personally owned smartphones) often reap the benefits.
More and more workers in the modern climate are providing their own phones, laptop computers or other devices in order to succeed on the job. Companies are able to effectively expand their internal systems with minimal financial investment, employees are able to work on machines which they are adept and comfortable with, and the need for IT support is reduced or eliminated.
The Great Equalizer
One of Ms. Green’s findings in her research on the subject of technology at work was that younger employees don’t rely on IT professionals nearly as muchïor at least not at the rate one might expect. Only about one-third of respondents reported that internal IT departments were valuable to them in this regard, or about as many who reported utilizing the Web more frequently.
The Web and Internet have created a generation of problem-solvers who are simply more familiar with the types of systems which power virtually every industry these days. They are often more inclined to seek out answers based on collective wisdom which is freely available, as opposed to dialing an extension for assistance from a company representative. Indeed, many IT professionals rely on the Internet when troubleshooting difficult problems; in many instances, it’s simply a matter of removing the middle man.
The Anywhere Worker isn’t just a boon for companies due to the potential overhead savings. Consider a January 2014 article in the Harvard Business Review, which suggests that allowing employees in many industries to work 1-2 days per week at home boosts productivity, increases job satisfaction and lowers turnover rates.
Their study was based on an online Chinese travel company called Ctrip, which saw savings of nearly $2,000 for each employee who worked outside of the central office for a period of nine months. The telecommuting workers also completed about 13% more calls when compared to those who remained on-site, highlighting the potential win-win scenario for similar organizations.
Indeed, numerous studies show that there are more young people entering the workforce who are placing greater emphasis on work-life balance and company culture, rather than raw earning potential. With these facts in mind, it’s easy to see why so many businesses are beginning to explore the viability and value of the Anywhere Worker and technology at work.
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