Widgets Magazine

What REALLY Limits Remote Working

If we want to get real about remote working, increasing flexibility and maximizing productivity, the conversation about the technology behind it can stop now.
The focus shouldn,Aeot be the technology. The technology has been in place for a decade now with video calling, email, telephone systems and document sharing one could feasibly do just about any job remotely without any hesitation.
So what is the stumbling block?
Organizational Behavior.
I worked for a small(ish) university with three campuses spread across Florida not too long ago. I worked for the IT department, tasked with not only classroom support, design, installation, digital signage and campus cable but also researching and evaluating new technology for use in our environment. I had a desktop and a laptop with a built in webcam, and we had Microsoft Lync as our Voice/IM/Video solution across campus. I could be reached anywhere. I would often pack my laptop into my bag and walk over to the library for some peace and quiet (a rare treat in our office) while getting more in-depth work done which required elevated focus than the normal day-to-day type stuff. While sitting in the library study carrel with my laptop open, headphones in, programming a touch panel or compiling in-depth documentation on processes or software I would often answer phone calls directly from my desk number through my computer. Technology is great, I love it. I was able to work ,Aeuremotely,Aeu so I could get my work done more effectively, efficiently and most importantly be happier while doing it.
Until someone found out.
Logged into the Lync system, answering calls, generating and replying to emails, closing work tickets and assisting others with tasks was great. I was so happy to be in the library, away from the noise of among other things non-stop dehumidifiers, because our building was growing mold, incessant talking and coughing coming from the work bench, or people yelling for no discernable reason (an occurrence which happened far too often for my liking) when I received a text message from my boss asking where I was and why I wasn,Aeot in my office. I replied ,AeuIn the library working on some stuff,Aeu and went back about my work, having turned my cell phone off. Apparently that was the wrong move. Though I was available via voice (work phone number), chat or video, it wasn,Aeot enough to overcome that I wasn,Aeot in my office.
Our university still preferred sneakernet as the main form of workplace productivity. Where someone would need to communicate with a coworker, or subordinate and immediately stand up, walk over to their office, knock on the door and wait for a response.
Dejected, I packed up my bag, coiled my headphones and headed back to the mold-infested cluster of buildings my department called home. My productivity took a dip, I was more upset and not as much was getting done.
All because the organizational behavior prevented leveraging existing (and already paid for) technology to work remotely (it wasn,Aeot even remotely, I was still on site, just in a different building).
Now I,Aeom with a new company. For the most part my job cannot be completed remotely, unless I,Aeom willing to fill my downtown condo with all sorts of wonderful gear, which frankly isn,Aeot an option. But on occasion, when I,Aeom working on more administrative tasks, less product testing, I will work from home. The organization, or at least my boss, supports the idea of ,Aeuwhatever makes you more productive.,Aeu
So I sit at my desk at home, computer connected to monitor, webcam live and a Zoom video call open the entire time. Anyone in my company knows my Zoom code, and can join the call anytime they want. The same availability from home as I would have if I were in my cube at work.
The technology didn,Aeot change, or become more available, the difference was the organizational behavior.
 

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