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Work Wherever


Image: Jacob Lund -
Our sister website, No Jitter, has a terrific post from Mark Roberts, CMO of PGi, a provider of cloud-based communications services, in which he highlights the factors of mobility and change (primarily cultural) as the two major forces driving the transformation of our workplaces.
What’s useful about Mark’s piece is that he weaves together statistics from half a dozen or so different sources to illustrate just what’s changing about the workplace, creating a clear picture of a workforce that’s increasingly able to work from almost any sort of remote location for almost any reason—and is better and more productive as a result of this freedom.
Mark also describes a PGi initiative for employees called Work Wherever Wednesday, which is pretty much what it sounds like: “an opportunity to work from a place and in a manner that allows them to deliver their best work.
“As the early adopters of technology, employees are willing to spend the time to learn new platforms,” Mark writes. “Companies that choose not to empower their workforce risk losing their employees—their most valuable assets. The team in the trenches every day knows what it takes to deliver. It’s often as simple as creating a culture that allows team members to continue collaborating as they move from one location to another and from screen to screen.”
It’s great to see this sort of acknowledgement of the effort employees put into becoming more effective remote employees. Too often the discussion dwells on what the enterprise does and doesn’t do, and should or shouldn’t do, when it comes to remote work. Which is understandable; after all, it’s the enterprise that controls the degree to which remote work is allowed/encouraged vs. curtailed or outright prohibited. If there’s not some business justification, it’ll be hard to get leadership’s buy-in.
But remote work will also fail as an initiative if it’s seen as strictly a privilege rather than a normal way for everyone to do work. Recognizing that employees invest time and energy in learning new tools in order to be effective as remote workers is one way to advance the initiative.
It’s also inspired of PGi to make Wednesday the remote-work day. A lot of companies seem to default to Friday as the day when lots of people work from home, but when you think about it, that can feed into the whole image (valid or not) of remote work as something that’s halfway to taking the day off: Hey, it’s Friday, everyone’s going to kick back, work from home, knock off early, etc. etc. By contrast, Wednesday is the peak of the working week, the day you kind of expect everyone to be at the office and at their busiest.
But “busy” isn’t always the same thing as productive, and a lot of people are actually more productive when they work from home. Besides, the “wherever” in “work wherever” can end up being the office if that’s what someone finds most productive, whether occasionally or every week.
Wednesday may not be the right remote work day for every enterprise; it may be a nonstarter for plenty of good reasons. But what’s important about PGi’s initiative is that it makes a clear statement that people can be productive anywhere, anytime. And the “wherever” part may even inspire workers to explore new places from which to work remotely. Maybe it gets them to work someplace that gives them the chance to take an hour to visit a client site that normally might be inconvenient to get to on a regular basis. Maybe there’s another corporate office with a different function where employees could work, as a kind of exchange program.
Whatever the details, it’s great to see companies opening up their thinking on remote work.