Telecommunications allows an increasing number of organizations to operate in ways that previously could only be accomplished in person. The potential impact of this shift in work is financial, social, cultural, and environmental. For employers, this means:
Here's one example, from Cisco's implementation of teleworking:
Yet a successful transition from a traditional work environment to an open work environment demands considerations beyond technology solutions. While technology can help enable an evolution in the workplace, a transformation in office culture must also take place for it to be successful.
To fully understand the changes required by a shift from a traditional to an open work model, consider not only the technologies an organization uses to communicate across distances, but also its systems for measuring results and accountability, its culture and values, and the way its employees carry out their roles and responsibilities.
An organizational telecommunications system that allows for the greatest adoption of an open work environment may look something like this:
When employees don't work in one central location, most meetings can be scheduled and conducted via web conferencing, phone, or even IM. Yet even in the most optimal open work environments, certain tasks, meetings, trainings, and creative processes are either impossible or severely limited if employees can't meet face-to-face. To address this, an open work organization might consider a regular schedule for use of office space that you own and lease out for additional revenue, or utilizing on-demand conference space that's rented as needed.
The systems shift can be called a move toward a "results-only" work environment, a transformation prioritizing and rewarding productivity and job requirements, not time at work or scheduling, and a solution that can be customized at the workgroup level or across the organization.
This chart is from Moen, Phyllis, et. al. Learning from a Natural Experiment: Studying a Corporate Work-Time Policy Initiative. In Work-Life Policies That Make a Real Difference for Individuals, Families, and Organizations, edited by Ann C. Crouter and Alan Booth. Washington, D.C.: Urban Institute Press, 2009.
Individuals in management must be able to think and lead differently in an open work environment. While any work environment benefits from people who have been encouraged to take an honest inventory of their strengths and weaknesses, this is essential in an open work environment. An employee that thrives in a results-oriented open work environment will have or cultivate a great deal of personal accountability, organizational skills, and the initiative to seek out the support and resources necessary to achieving his or her goals.
Open work environments, when adopted, can quicken the development of democratic values in the workplace: transparency, dialogue and listening, fairness and dignity, purpose and vision, accountability, collective goals, choice, integrity, reflection and evaluation, and decentralization of power.
Nonprofits tend to value environmental sustainability and social justice. Moreover, they need to budget effectively and keep their overhead low to be successful. Adopting open work through the use of telecom solutions allows an organization to operate with greater efficiency, reduce costs, and create a more flexible and productive work experience for its team.
In short, telecom can allow organizations to create work environments more in alignment with their social and environmental values, while freeing more capital to accomplish their goals.
Find telecommunications products at TechSoup.
Image: Vintage phones , Shutterstock
Join today to access donations and discounts for your nonprofit or library.
Already a member?