Telecommuters will invariably end up ripping someone off - someone ALWAYS gets shortchanged.
Either their company, or the teleworkers themselves and their families.
At least, that was the declaration of a former boss when I proposed working from home at least a few days a week. When teleworkers slack off, with no one to supervise them, he said, they're stealing from their employer. Conversely, when they have a strong work ethic, they feel compelled to prove (to themselves as well as their boss and colleagues) that they're not slacking off, and end up spending more hours at their desk than they should.
Of course, you're a better teleworker than that - I know I am! Right? You and I are always responsible and mature in our use of the gift of flexibility that our telecommuting situation provides, right?
Well... knowledge work - for the chronically curious, the compulsive reader, the ADD-inflicted - is like a distillery job for an alcoholic. The web is a million constant temptations, and each one links to a zillion more. I admit that I sometimes have to "work" 16 hours in a day in order to get 8 hours of tasks completed.
But in general, I am indeed a better teleworker than that. It's incredibly productive to walk downstairs rather than having to drive for an hour and a half, to set my own schedule, to work in the comfort of my home office dressed comfortably, to not be around an officeful of interesting people interrupting me (and I them) all day long. I get a LOT done, and more happily and healthily than when I drove to work.
John McDermott posted an interesting question on LinkedIn's Learning, Education and Training Professionals Group: "Remote learning is great, but no remote workers, please!" Why are employers willing to allow e-learning but not e-work? Is this a fear of employees slacking off, or a devaluation of the training/learning function?
Most likely both, I say. The lack of trust employers have for telecommuting demonstrates a strong acknowledgment of the value of teamwork but lack of recognition of the utility of online collaboration tools to facilitate that teamwork despite lack of physical proximity.
And the apparently contradictory acceptance of e-learning acknowledges the ability of trainees to take responsibility for their own learning tasks, while failing to recognize the social aspects of learning.
A crucial aspect of all of this is the fact that some of both our work and our learning tasks are best tackled in quiet solitude with singular attention, while others are enhanced (or even made possible at all) by nature of interaction with one or more teammates. None of us at GCPLearning ever tell an HR, training, or environmental health and safety manager that our training was designed to replace trainers, the classroom, or any other tool they're currently using.
E-learning - like teleworking - is one arrow in the employer's quiver, to be applied thoughtfully and deliberately where it will do the most good. Employers would do well to recognize - no, embrace - this key fact and make business decisions, related to both task and training functions, accordingly.
Photo courtesy of slworking