Re: Working Virtually: Redesigning Work for Human Flourishing #remote-work

Alina Pukhovskaya

This is such an interesting discussion. Thank you Nancy for starting it.

I believe there have been several fundamental changes that would allow remote work to stay for good:

1. Different mentality and skillset of millennials (and younger generations). We are digital natives and online communication is just natural to us. It has never been a case before. 

2. Tremendous advance in technology. Every year collaborative solutions get better, faster, more user friendly and intuitive. For example, zoom has been a game changer. But it all started with popularization of smartphones ten years ago.

3. Change of business environment. New types of businesses especially in tech that allow more flexibility.

I am a big believer that the future of work is remote


On Tue 14 Jan 2020 at 22:45 Murray Jennex via Groups.Io <> wrote:
I hope you'all understand that I'm a supporter and user of remote working so I'm not arguing against it, rather, just the opposite.  I'm looking to see what has fundamentally changed that will make remote working sustainable regardless of economic conditions or trust issues.  I have seen the stats showing remote working works in the past, but it didn't matter as companies stilled pulled back.  I've seen companies use the economics of not having to pay for office space as a reason to support remote working, but then pull back, and the list goes on, for every benefit talked about now, I've seen it in the past and still seen companies pull back from remote working.  Is our only hope that climate change will sustain remote working?  (I can this helping to some degree).  As a long time KM'r I have to learn from the past, and the past doesn't support remote work being sustainable.  I see the statistics and hear the success but ultimately it isn't our community that decides if we remote work, it is top management's decision and I'd like to see if something is fundamentally changing in management theory/practice that will help guarantee that remote working is more than a cost cutting move or a short term hiring trick.....murray

-----Original Message-----
From: Nancy Dixon <nancydixon@...>
To: <>
Sent: Tue, Jan 14, 2020 7:27 pm
Subject: Re: [SIKM] Working Virtually: Redesigning Work for Human Flourishing

There have been so many thoughtful responses to my post on remote work, many drawn from the writer’s own experience.  This is the kind of in-depth conversation I love, and what Kate Pugh and I hoped for when we talked with Stan about the gender/diversity issue. 
Several people have asked questions which I want to try to respond to here. Murray, bless his heart, still wants to know what makes me hopeful so here are few statistics showing how remote work is increasing that fuel my optimism.
Several people  talked about the need for F2F meetings and I fully support that. Those that have heard me speak on the topic, know that I talk about the Oscillation Principle. Below is a bit of what I’ve said about that principle. If you want to look at the Oscillation Principle in more depth, here is an article I published in the Learning Organization in 2017, called “Learning Together and Working Apart.” It describes a virtual team at ProQuest and how they blend remote and face-to-face work. None of the 30 team members work out of a company office. Karen’s post mentioned trust and Arthur wrote about how we are social beings. The Oscillation Principle is a way to address both of those vital human needs. The above article talks about how ProQuest builds trust in their face-to-face meetings, which are held for 3 days, 3 times a year,  and how they use their virtual tools to keep the trust going after the face-to-face meetings end.
“The promise of virtual work lies in the blending of virtual and face-to-face work. I have named this blending The Oscillation Principle. It is the rhythmic movement between team members meeting together face-to-face then working apart. It is based on two well researched findings 1) that sensemaking tasks like planning, designing, strategizing, and innovation require periodic face-to-face time and that periodic face-to-face time creates and renews strong interpersonal relationships necessary for such collaborative activities to be generative. 2)  Knowledge workers require alone time to focus on their individual tasks.  Congregate to collaborate, separate to concentrate! 
In this recent  blog post I explain the factors that influence how often those face-to-face meetings need to take place.   
I hope I addressed most of the issues raised. This has been a very valuable discussion for me.  My thanks to all.

Nancy M Dixon

Working to increase virtual team collaboration

On Jan 14, 2020, at 8:13 PM, Matt Moore via Groups.Io <innotecture@...> wrote:

“so I'll ask my question again Nancy, what makes you think that virtual/remote working will succeed this time when we've done it a few times before only to have management back away from it when  economic times got tough and organizations felt the need to bring everyone back into the office to control them?....murray”

Here in Australia, many large organizations have engaged in “activity-based working” initiatives. In some cases this means that they have thoughtfully redesigned their premises and jobs at the same time and in the same strategic direction. In others, it has simply been a cost-cutting exercise. Office space is expensive. And if someone is working from home then that employee is paying for electricity, water, internet, etc. In most cases, organizations are now physically unable to bring everyone back into the office.

In practice, organizational executives will still wax and wane in their enthusiasm for remote working. The smart ones will find the mix of virtual and face-to-face that is optimal at the organizational, team and individual level.

Best regards,
Alina Pukhovskaya

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