There is increasing visibility in the role that home offices may play in client computing strategies going forward. Regardless of the size of your business and literally cross industry, the home office trend is linked closely to the ubiquitous availability in networking bandwidth at home combined with the new mobility devices. The recession, however, may have an unanticipated consequence as the home office evolution moves ahead.
As always, the thoughts, positions, and comments in this blog are mine, and not those of my employer.
From a practical standpoint, many of the employees either have or could have home offices. There is a recent article in USA Today, October 12, 2009, issue which attests to this fact.
The recession may have made employees less secure and potentially feeling somewhat exposed. The theory is that there is a "line of sight" issue potentally playing on the emotions. Employees may feel that the visibility to their manager or management team may be more important than ever, and in a home office environment the visibility may not be there. The old expression "out of sight, out of mind" may result in a level of insecurity that did not exist before the recession. Are you seeing any of these symptoms in your workplace?
The issue may not only be on the employee side of the equation. Interestingly, in many businesses there has been and is not training created for managers on how to mange a remote workforce. As a result, there may be a discomfort on the management side of the equation to be more comfortable with the dynamics. Consider this aspect as the home office work force expands considerably.
Home office is here to stay; it will expand and more workers will work from home in the future. The question will always remain on the balance of remote vs. on site workers. Some businesses may be opting to take a wait and see position on the topic instead of embracing the home office.
Innovation could potentially expedite some businesses to embrace home office more agressively- W7 collaboration features and video products will promote collaboration to include the potential features as a standard home office approach. Virtualization and the Cloud will likely be the catalyst for opening up further potential in the least risk approach. In fact, virtualization may be the key enabler of home office of the future.
I sincerely believe that the home office economics are compelling, if not only from a real estate perspective, but from the "green" perspective as well. The gains in employee productivity and flexibility (while frequently considered "soft" costs) are complimented by the ability of the end users to work in the most comfortable manner possible. Personally, like many others in the technology field, I have spent the better part of the last decade (actually longer) in home office. At first I admit there was an adjustment period, however, that was extremely short lived and today, I cannot envision working in any other manner.
Are you or your business seeing any changes in attitude or position in home office or in your industry are you seeing any trends that might run counter to the approach?