Thursday, March 28, 2013

Virtual Organizations, Telecommuting And The New Organization Paradigm

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Regardless of Yahoo's executive decision (as set forth in a stern intracompany memo from Ms. Mayers to her scattered minions throughout Yahooville) to do away with flextime working and telecommuting, purportedly due a decrease in employee productivity, accountability and spontaneity of interpersonal interaction -- the phenomenon that leads to such amazing things as brainstorming, problem-solving, and processing speed, as the author of The Global Futurist Blog as well as The business And Project Planning And Management Blog will yield ultimately, and that the virtual organization and telecommuting are absolutely here to stay and will be on the rise in conjunction with the globalization and decentralization of business and the growing increase in the price, resource consumption, the exploding costs of full-time employee healthcare coverage as a company benefit and perils of traditional commuting.

Face Facts: There are no giant fixed office or professional rental costs in cyberspace; your prospective workforce is the entire world and traditional business travel (where not critically necessary) is an expensive drain on productive working time and the budget.

The pros, especially in the case of small to medium-sized businesses, greatly outweigh the cons, with the exception of benefiting through non-verbal communications [you might want to reference The Sending Signals Blog]. Some of these non-verbal statements can appear via webcam, but the actual chemistry and kinesthetics of persons meeting and orienting themselves in space relative to the other persons in a virtual get together will be lost. And sadly, these "missing movements and microexpressions" comprise over three quarters of our 'real' communications.

The end result will lead to a growing de-personalization and impersonalization of working society. Signals will be missed, subtleties unseen and spontaneous bonding (in terms of traditional networking and socializing) will fade into history. Hourly wages or salaries may well give way to piece-rate or per finished task compensation. This would be terrible for governmental employees [only kidding, Motor Vehicle Department Employee -- please put down that assault rifle -- and besides you don't work for the U.S. Postal Service...]

One of the companies in which I play a significant role outsources certain of its 'use only as needed' functions, and I received the some actionable correspondence [edited for this article] to which I replied:
---------------

Anonymous Person:

Your request as set forth in the subject line of this email, and in your letter to me (which forwarded, follows) is hereby fully authorized, and I respectfully ask that you effect the payment via PayPal to Scheissmeister Industries in the amount of $2,300.50 at your very earliest opportunity.

You may also, if you choose, mention to the persons responsible for 1) assigning personnel to tasks; 2) reporting hours expended per client; and 3) those involved in quality control review (an ongoing process but very necessary in any virtual organization) establish better monitoring systems for each and all of these three processes if their client acquisition rate is to exceed their client attrition rate.

This represents a challenge to any virtual organization, and as telecommuting and the virtual organization become increasingly prevalent in our society, Chief Operating Officers will find themselves with their hands quite full; in the smallest of organizations where the CEO is also acting as COO, this challenge will become incredibly difficult.

Thank you.

Faithfully,

Chief Executive Officer
Managing Member
 ---------------
If organizational virtuality and flex-time scheduling will truly be the next reality, as I believe they will,  it will require an expanded role for the COOs of companies of every size, and an expanded role for the CEOs of the smallest to medium-sized companies. They will have to fashion themselves into new types of creatures. Their roles will have to incorporate:

1) Very frequent unscheduled calls to virtual staff (people generally work better when they feel that they will be accountable and are being monitored -- we Humans are quirky that way);

2) Collecting and reviewing daily or weekly time sheets or their future equivalent, and conferring with the responsible virtual staff members as well as with the clients (whether intracorporate or outside fee- or price-payers to check on quality control of work performed and the justification and verification of the hours spent on each task for each internal or external client;

3) Regularly scheduling virtual web conferences, with strict checks on physical presence by polling and asking questions which require presence, wakefulness and attentiveness to answer. I myself have gotten out of a corporate web conference run by a foolish manager by putting an inflatable plastic shark pool toy in my office chair in front of the monitor. I doubt that it would work now.

Just as reporting to an office for work may be construed as an intrusion upon an individual's private time, COO quasi-spying will be seen as an invasion of privacy in the worker's home.

Start thinking about this, because it's going to happen.

As always, thank you for reading me, and sharing my articles with your connections and colleagues across your social media channels.

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