No, I'm not this guy:
You don't have to buy a book or a DVD, and you don't have to attend one of my seminars.
A number of states have traffic problems, and to their credit, they have come up with a creative solution. Rather than building more roads, widening existing ones, or encouraging public transportation, they have created programs to reduce the number of people who travel by encouraging TeleWork.
For example, in the Commonwealth of Virginia, they offer up to $50,000 in reimbursement to qualified businesses that create or expand telework programs that result in at least 10 employees teleworking an average of 6 days per month.
Companies can recoup a substantial portion of the expenses for the software, hardware and services required to setup and make a telework program effective including:
- Collaboration software (e.g. VeaMea)
- New computers and peripherals for teleworkers (e.g. laptops, web cams, all-in-one machines)
- Broadband Internet access for teleworkers
- Centralized remote connectivity infrastructure (e.g. computers/server equipment)
- Telecommunications/VOIP Solutions
- Consulting Services (e.g. installation of software and hardware; teleworker support; real estate consolidation)
In short, if your company qualifies, the Commonwealth of Virginia will pay a significant portion of the cost of new technology and services for you to install a telework program in your organization and will provide resources to help you with the planning and implementation.
If you want to set up a telework program, click here to learn more about one solution for secure, multi-party video conferencing, web conferencing and collaboration and how your company might qualify for significant financial assistance!
* OK, not REALLY FREE, but a lot less than it would be otherwise
No, it was not actually that dramatic, but this article in Washington Technology was interesting both for what it said and what it didn't say.
Federal Managers sited four key reasons that Telework is not as widely adopted as one might expect given the strong policy and administrative commitments to telework's benefits:
1) Technical disconnects: difficulty of loading up people's home machines with VPN/Security Software, and Physical security of the home environment vs. the Federal building when the person would otherwise work.
* The technology to work on sensitive records without ever saving them on the home machine is widely available, so the physical security of the home office should not be a major concern. Concerns about security of home internet connections don't have to be solved by a VPN and layer upon layer of network numbing security software. AES 256 encrypted sessions allow military-grade security over public internet.
2) Out of sight, out of mind -- When people aren't in the office they may or may not be working as hard as they should, and may be hard to find when you need them.
* One solution to this is the idea of a Presence Window which shows the current status of each individual. This makes it easy to see when someone is away from their desk, actively working at their computer, on a call, etc. It also provides a simple path to open a chat or call to the remote worker so they can be pulled in to meetings quickly and easily without needing to call a support tech to wrestle with the AV equipment. Presence also provides the worker with a subtle reminder that their colleagues may reach out for them just as easily as popping into a cubicle.
3) Harder to manage what you can't see -- A large percentage of communication is non-verbal. And, if a team quietly prevents crises from occurring, they will not be as visible as those who respond to crises and resolve them by calling all hands on deck for a heroic rescue.
* A desktop video solution removes the problem of missing the non-verbal communication, and software-based solutions remove the concerns of expensive government assets sitting in people's homes. The issue of who is recognized and rewarded is pretty tough to deal with from a technology perspective, but the teleworkers certainly have the edge when the emergency is pandemic flu, or blizzards that make the roads impassable.
4) Trust vs. fairness -- Managers would trust SOME of their workers to be self-starters and get their work done offsite, but they need to be fair to all team members and offer the same options, even to those with whom they don't have the same level of trust.
* This is the elephant in the room, and it isn't a technology problem. The good news is that with Presence, and with quick click to connect meetings, a manager can keep a worker "on a short leash" even when they are not in the office. A better solution, of course, would be to move to policies and a culture that acknowledges that some people are ready for greater levels of autonomy, just as some people are ready for greater levels of budget, staff to manage, etc. After all, TeleWorking is a privilege, not a right.
Another way to think about all the above objections is to trade in the entire "go to the office" model of work for something entirely dfifferent. For more on this, check out the Results Only Work Environment. It is an interesting take on what the world of work COULD be.