The traditional desk-bound job will one day become a thing of the past. No longer is productivity only measured by the amount of time spent in a cubicle at arm’s length from your boss and a shout away from the receptionist. With industry increasingly moving to the digital space, it’s only a matter of time before offices are places to meet clients rather than tower blocks of suited and pencil-skirted slavery. Is your business being left behind in the digital industrial revolution?
Working from home is no longer the slipper and gown, coffee in hand, commute-free kingdom of the freelancer and sometime-consultant. Full-time employees in many sectors are now being afforded the flexibility of working from home. Businesses both big and small have become wise to the fact that office space not only costs money, but the pricey perishable energies and amenities that go with it aren’t necessary. The world is nowhere near as big as it used to be, if meetings can be conducted across continents then employees can surely Skype in from the seclusion of suburbia and skip the time-wasting journey and ensuing road rage? KPI’s and face-time are not, nor have they ever really been linked, in fact, many people are far more productive away from office gossip, collective smoke breaks and continuous phone calls that may not even be for them. The only problem is, as Huffington Post tackled in their article, ‘Tackling Digital Discrimination’, is that ‘working from home’ has been deemed a ‘luxury’ and only senior staffers are afforded the privilege.
It’s true that working from home just isn’t possible for some. Junior members or administrative support staff whose physical presence makes life easier for others just can’t be considered for remote work, but in many cases, virtual assistance for high-flying CEO’s whose polished lace-up’s rarely make contact with the office carpet is in effect the same as if the Assistants were in the office all day. A lack of trust and fears over weakened communication and drops in productivity are usually cited as the reasons why junior employees aren’t given this kind of flexibility.
Admittedly, as a freelancer, I can attest to the fact that working from home is very difficult, even I prefer to work from the cold, dank dreariness of the local library or expensive, purchase-pressuring environment of a quiet cafe. But as HuffPost Tech reminds us – “Ultimately, motivated and committed employees are the end game. Those with access to flexible working were more satisfied employees…” And this will be true for all employees, regardless of age or experience. Digital discrimination in the workplace is unfortunately just another case of technology moving faster than societal attitudes or ingrained popular culture can keep up with.