The Way We Work

oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on labor markets, innovation, and online work.

Week of 12/21/2012:

Entrepreneur: The Workspace Of The Future
Is the office becoming obsolete? According to Gartner’s Tom Austin, it certainly looks that way. With the rise of online collaboration tools like virtual conferencing and the rapid advancement of enterprise software, professionals are finding it easier than ever to work from anywhere. In addition to allowing some firms to become entirely virtual, the transitioning workforce will drive the traditional office to evolve into free-flowing, collaboration-friendly spaces, Austin predicts.

Harvard Business Review: Evaluating The Employees You Can’t See
With more and more employees working virtually, the paradigm of ‘management by observation’ is fading quickly. Keith Ferrazzi suggests that the transition to the virtual workplace is leading companies to more accurately assess employee performance by focusing on results, instead of just the “face time” spent in the office. Still, for most companies, finding an effective way to monitor employee productivity in this new era of workforce flexibility is no easy task. Ferrazzi provides five best practice tips to avoid common pitfalls and evaluate team members’ performance effectively, regardless of whether they’re in the office or at home.

The Wall Street Journal: For Some, Home=Office
In 2006, a mere 9% of Aetna’s workforce chose to telecommute. Just six years later, an impressive 47% of the company has chosen to forego the commute and work from home full time. Originally a tactic to boost employee retention, Aetna’s remote work program has taken a new direction, enabling the reduction of almost 2.7 million square feet of office space and resulting in an annual savings of approximately $80 million. In this article, David Wessel, The Wall Street Journal’s economics editor, explores historic workforce transitions and discusses the success of Aetna’s work-from-home initiative.

CBS News: 5 Ways To Make Telecommuting Work For You
From barking dogs to interruptions from the neighbors, working from home poses unique challenges not often found in the office. Recognizing these challenges but also emphasizing the work-life balance benefits of working from home, veteran telecommuter Kathy Kristof shares six great tips to help eliminate distractions, keep in touch, and focus on the job at hand.

eWeek: Intel Offers An Image Of The Workplace Of The Future
How will we be working in 10 years? What about 20? Asked to consider the changing nature of work, Intel’s Steve Brown and Tim Hanson share five key trends that are likely to impact workers in the near future. One key issue? Workforce flexibility. From office-less employees and dispersed teams to open innovation and “dynamic teams,” Brown and Hanson emphasize the increased importance of agile work strategies in the decades to come.

Did we miss anything? Are there any insights you find particularly interesting? Let us know in the comments section below!

And please note that this column will take a brief hiatus next week for the holidays. We look forward to seeing you in 2013!

Jenna Weiner

Content Marketer

Jenna Weiner is the former content marketing manager at oDesk and was the editor-in-chief of the oDesk blog. With a background in business and technology writing, she specializes in content marketing and strategy, public relations, and branding. Before joining oDesk, Jenna was a writer and editor for Monitor Group’s marketing department (now Monitor Deloitte) and was the Business & Technology Section Editor for Brafton Inc.… read more