Category Archives: Jobs

Building Virtual Bench Strength

Many small businesses are doing what they can to keep things going in the face of one of the worst economic downturns in our lifetimes, but with so many elements of uncertainty many are loathe to make full time hires or resume their pre-recession growth trajectories. And yet, there is still work to be done. While we wait to see what will happen with health care reformlabor lawstax changes and other variables, it is important to keep moving, stay focused, and explore other ways to get things done.

One way to keep projects moving and stay on track is through the use of virtual teams and the thousands of freelancers around the world who are eager to ply their craft, but have been sidelined as a result of the economy and job market.

I see a tremendous opportunity through virtual outsourcing, for small- to mid-sized businesses as well as freelancers and solopreneurs.

Since I started my business in March 2010, I’ve tested a number of these online resources, such as oDeskGuru,99designs and several others. In many cases, you will find very capable US-based freelancers registered on these sites as contractors and service providers. And in many cases, using these services is not the cheapest option. I have had some projects go very smoothly, and others that (four months later) are still not complete. And in that timeframe, I have learned some things that I am going to share with you.

  1. Have a plan. This would seem pretty obvious, but in the US workplace we’re so used to ambiguity and lack of specificity in job assignments that it’s tempting to apply the same approach with virtual team support. Don’t! If you cannot create a “paint by the numbers” plan for the project that spells out the goals, elements and deliverables then you are kidding yourself if you think the person on the other end is just going to figure it out for themselves. It is up to you to spell it out, and be as specific as possible in defining the scope of work and what the finished product should look like.
  2. Use specific questions to narrow the field. Many times, freelancers and virtual teams will simply bid on every project that is posted, and they will decide later (once they’ve made the cut for interviews) whether they can actually do the project. Eliminate these pikers right up front by putting questions in the original job posting that they need to answer in their response. No answers, no need to pursue further. If they won’t pay attention to details when they are eager to win your business, how attentive will they be once you’ve paid them?
  3. Set a price for the project, don’t go hourly. It is very tempting when you see the hourly rates that are posted on services like oDesk to just create an open-ended project … after all, for $3.50 an hour or sometimes as high as $11.00 an hour you can get lulled into the sense that you are getting “cheap labor.” And that’s true to a point. However, what you will find is that there’s a pretty significant delta between our expectations in US business (including research, writing, marketing, etc.) that doesn’t necessarily resonate in other parts of the world. What that means is that you will end up paying someone for 20 hours to learn what it is that they need to be doing, when you could have hired a US-based “VA” (virtual assistant) or an intern to perform that same task in a couple of hours. So, bottom line: set a price that you are willing to pay and make it a project price not an hourly rate. You will weed out the people who don’t have the ability to get it done, AND you will create an incentive for fast delivery because the project is only fully paid upon completion.

More tips later. Like”Keep an open line for communication.” and “Check the work in progress and be specific about changes.” What questions would you like to ask? What tips would you share based on your experience?

Alternative Workforce Strategies

Alternative Workforce Strategies: Earning Opportunities in the Knowledge Work Era

Key aspects of the traditional job market have been changing for several decades, enabled and increasingly required as a response to global competition, the ability to source labor in lower cost areas, and the willingness of employers to “de-compartmentalize” aspects of a business process and outsource them. This trend has only been accelerated by technology and telecommunications tools that enable work to occur anytime, anywhere and in the most efficient setting possible.

This is being seen in three areas that have a direct implication for job creation in the traditional sense:

1.         Technology is being used to augment or replace roles that were previously filled by a person, such as administrative assistants, travel agents, assembly workers, bank tellers, toll booth attendants, retail clerks, etc.

2.         Work is being “off-shored” or otherwise assigned where it can be achieved at a lower cost, and companies are increasingly outsourcing work that is not a core competency or profit center for the business. This is being seen in the health care industry (e.g., medical records transcription and radiology interpretation) as well as in professional services such as accounting, law, and business consulting.

3.         Entire work processes have been transferred to lower cost areas of production, such as the manufacture and assembly of electronics and components, and these jobs are not likely to return to the US.

Today’s freelance and crowdsourcing approach to project work includes a variety of activities, many of which are a natural complement to current social media practices and technology. There are dozens of areas where crowdsourcing is supporting or supplanting traditional roles and employment opportunities, such as advertising, programming, writing, research, design, product development, and data analysis. Technology makes it possible to source this work instantly via alternative workforce strategies and contingent staffing models.

Project and contract assignments generally fall into one of the following categories:

(1)   Transactional: tasks that can be delegated or assigned to an individual or entity with specific instructions and expectations for the completed work

(2)   Relational: projects and tasks that are interpersonal in nature, and frequently require interaction and collaboration among more than one team member to complete the work

(3)   Creative: requires intellectual and/or creative content from an individual, often based on ambiguous instructions or loose guidelines

Ideas for Freelancing Business

See if there are any ideas below that fit you well. If you find an idea, seek out a guide on how to get started in that area.

Antique refurbishment This is a perfect side business for people who love antiquing. Take worn-out antiques home with you, invest the time and care needed to transform those old items into something amazing, then resell them at a profit.

Auto detailing Have a meticulous eye for detail and love to get things gleaming clean? Auto detailing is probably a perfect side business for you. In essence, your job is to make carssparkle inside and out – and many people are quite happy to pay well for this service.

Babysitting Got lots of evenings free? Like kids? Babysitting may be a great side business for you. Keep an eye on multiple children on Friday and Saturday nights and you can earn some solid income.

Bed and breakfast Have some extra space in your home? Turn that extra bedroom into a “bed and breakfast” room. This works particularly well if you have a somewhat older home or live near an area that attracts regular travelers and tourists.

Blogging If you enjoy writing, find a topic you’re passionate about and start a blog on the topic. All you need is a computer, some time, and some energy to consistently write.

Cake decorating Enjoy baking and have a bit of an artistic touch? Learn how to decorate cakes and make them for special events. One of my mother’s old friends does this and makes quite a bit of money on the side.

Candle making Candle making is a great little craft to learn. You can often easily sell the candles at local shops and also through websites like Etsy.com.

Candy making Homemade candies are easier to make than you think and quite popular. Package them in nice little boxes and sell them through a local gift shop.

Card making This is another artistic “crafty” angle you can follow. Make greeting/birthday cards from scratch using your own photographs, some blank cards, and a healthy dose of artistic flair. Again, you san sell items like these through a local gift shop or at sites likeetsy.com.

Catering If you love to cook, take the “Blondie” route and start a home catering business. Catering is a business that’s perfectly designed to reward those who plan well and can often fit perfectly into weekends, lining up wonderfully opposite a normal workweek.

Childcare service Many states allow people to start up in-home daycares with minimal licensing and paperwork. If you love children and have plenty of time and space at home, this is a perfect business to get into.

Cleaning services for businesses Many businesses and civic institutions have a need for individuals who will provide cleaning services at a low cost outside of business hours. This is a great side business for those who can put in a few hours late at night or on weekends.

Collectible trading If there’s a particular type of collectible that you know a great deal about, you can often make good money as a collectible trader, utilizing tools like eBay and opportunities to find those collectibles in the community. I had some success with this myself with both trading cards and video games in the past.

Computer troubleshooting I had some success with this in the past, though I’ve largely moved away from it now. If you have a knack for fixing computers, this is a good place to start.

Consignment buyer Consignment shops and consignment auctions are often loaded with good deals if you know how to identify them – quite often, you can turn these good deals around and make a nice profit elsewhere. Get started by visiting some consignment shops and critically evaluating the prices on the items there.

Cookie making Much like candy making, homemade cookies can be a great seller. Bake the cookies, package them well, and resell them through a local gift shop. Often, you can find people in your social network who will buy batches from you for special occasions.

Dinner preparer I recently met a woman who earned quite a bit of money as a very part-time chef. Once a week, she would go to someone’s house and prepare a homemade meal for their family, then do all the dishes and cleanup work. This gives the family plenty of together time, while earning the lady some cash in the pocket. If you love to cook, this can be a great opportunity, but you may have to put a lot of work into searching for clients.

Event coordinator Events like family reunions and large parties are often full of busywork that many people simply don’t want to tackle. That can be the perfect place for you to step in and take charge of the planning and coordination.

Event DJing Are you an audiophile? If you have a great sound system and a large selection of music, you’ve already got what you need to hire yourself out as a DJ for various events and receptions. This is a great way to fill an afternoon and evening while also earning some cash in the process.

Exercise teacher Many gymnasiums will trade membership and often a bit more for a person willing and able to teach an exercise class. If you’re in good shape, this is a great opportunity to earn some extra money, plus it can often lead to additional income with one-on-one teaching opportunities.

Furniture making If you’re adept at woodworking and have just a bit of basic equipment, it’s easy to get into business making deck furniture. It only requires a few items – a saw, a drill, a sander – and some creativity and passion for working with wood.

Garage sale management One person I know holds a garage sale at their house almost every weekend during the summer. As a result, that person has a lot of regular customers who stop by almost every weekend to see what’s on sale. That person then goes to neighbors and friends and offers to sell their stuff at that yard sale for them, splitting the proceeds. People are usually happy to do this, since they don’t have to go to all of the work of running a yard sale, but still get rid of unwanted items and earn a bit of money, too.

Gardening services I’ve actually had requests from others for people willing to do this, so the demand is out there. To put it simply, some people are willing to pay others to get a vegetable or flower garden started for them in their yard so they can have access to ultra-fresh produce without all the legwork.

Handy man services Skilled at basic home repair? Let people know that they can call you for little repair jobs, like basic plumbing and other things. You’d be amazed at the simple things people are willing to pay others to help them with.

Housecleaning Many people simply don’t enjoy cleaning their homes and are willing to pay a reasonable price to have someone do the work for them. This is a great way to earn extra money in a flexible way, particularly if you have time off during the workweek.

Interior decorating Fascinated by interior design? Have a huge collection of interior design materials around? Many people are quite happy to hire individuals to help them decorate their home – I know, for one, that I have no eye for this type of thing.

Jewelry making If you have a good eye for detail work and a lot of patience, homemade jewelry can be quite profitable. As with other items on this list, there are many opportunities to sell such items through local gift shops or at sites like etsy.

Knitting / crocheting / quilting Skilled at creating blankets and sweaters? There’s a hugemarket for these types of items – even better, you can usually make them in your spare time whenever you have it. As always, local shops and places like etsy are great places to go to sell such items.

Landscaping services Willing to mow lawns and trim bushes and trees? Many people are quite happy to pay for such services. Not only is this a great side business for a fit adult, it’s also a great way for a teenager to get a small business started.

Meal-to-go preparations Remember my earlier post about breakfast burritos? Making meals in advance is a great way to save money for yourself – but you can often prepare these for others as well and sell them for a markup. Prepare eight casseroles, for example, then sell six of them to cover your costs, and you’ve got two free dinners for your family (and maybe a bit more). You can grow this by taking orders from others and finding out what they like.

Online media consultant Like participating on messageboards, Facebook, Twitter, and so on? Become an online media consultant and help people promote things. Start small – help local businesses get a presence on Facebook and set them up with Twitter. From there, you can grow to whatever works for you.

Personal shopping Many very busy people and elderly people are willing to pay a fee for people to do their shopping for them. Simply retrieve a shopping list from them, return with the receipt, and accept payment for the purchased items (plus a little fee). You can often do this in conjunction with your own shopping trip if you’re well-organized (take two carts!).

Pet grooming Many people loathe bathing their pets and trimming their hair – I know I do. Pet groomers perform these tasks for a small fee – a perfect job for a person who loves dogs and cats.

Pet sitting When people go on trips, they’re often concerned as to what will happen with their pets. That’s where you step in – offer yourself as a safe place to leave their pets, or be willing to go to their home to take care of their pets.

Pet walking Many busy people leave their pets home all day, but realize that those pets really could use a vigorous walk (and an opportunity to relieve themselves) during the day. Pet walking is a great opportunity for exercise, fresh air, and some pocket money if you have free time during each day.

Pet yard waste cleanup For many people in suburban areas, cleaning up pet yard waste is a real hassle – it’s disgusting, for one. Instead of cleaning it up themselves, they might hire someone to do it regularly, two to three times a week. There are several such services in our area, actually.

Produce selling Like to grow vegetables? Focus in on one vegetable and sell the excess to grocery stores and at farmers’ markets. My father does this with tomatoes and earns some solid extra money during the summer months. You can do really well, though, if you can grow things inside during the winter – February fresh tomatoes can sell quite well.

Proofreading Have strong English skills and exceptional grammar? You may have opportunities to work as a proofreader from home. Advertising for this can be difficult – seek out those who might actually be able to use your services and advertise directly to them.

Public speaking If you’re the type of person who can get the attention of a room easily, public speaking might be for you. Take advantage of every public speaking opportunity you can and you’ll be surprised at the opportunities that make themselves available for you.

Scrapbook making Many people dream of having beautiful scrapbooks. They collect all the materials they want in the scrapbooks but never follow through on the actual creation. You can step in here – take their ideas and materials and assemble a scrapbook for them.

Senior citizen assistance Many elderly people need assistance with a wide variety of simple household tasks – cleaning, laundry, and so forth. Many children of elderly people are quite willing to hire someone to help out their parents.

Sewing and alterations My wife is quite handy with a sewing machine and often hems and modifies our children’s clothes. She could easily take this a step further and offer her services to others, doing basic garment repair and modification for a small price on lazy evenings.

Soap making Making amazing homemade soaps isn’t as hard as you might think – it just takes time and patience. Again, items like these can easily be sold via local gift shops and through websites like etsy.

Teaching music If you know how to play an instrument (particularly the piano or the guitar) and have patience, you’ve got what you need to teach others how to play. Offer lessons in that instrument to others – this can also be an excellent thing to barter with, too.

Toy making From simple things like sock monkeys to more elaborate things like handcrafted chess sets, many people are willing to pay good money for handcrafted toys that you can easily make at home in your spare time. Again, gift shops are the place to go with items like these.

Tutoring Did you major in a particular topic in college? Do you have patience with children? You likely have what you need to tutor kids in particular subjects. Seek out parents and let them know that you tutor in a particular subject and provide materials for them to share and phone calls will often trickle in.

Video preparation services Many people like to have videos made for special events, such as weddings, or for gifts. This may mean actually taking the video yourself at a special event, or it may mean simply assembling materials and creating a video from those items. Either way, with a well-equipped PC, some taste, and some patience, you can make quite sophisticated video productions at home.

Virtual assistant Many ultra-busy professionals appreciate having someone who can check and answer their email, organize task lists for them, update their calendars, and so on, with minimal interaction. The best part is that you can provide this service from home with a good internet connection.

Web site design Many small businesses in your community could use a very basic web presence to tell others about their business. Quite often, these businesses don’t have a large budget for such things. That’s where you come in – get a bunch of clients from the local community by beating the pavement, create sites for them, and maintain them for a small fee. Get enough businesses and you have a nice side business of your own that doesn’t require a ton of maintenance time.

Wedding planner If you’re one of those people who can’t help but flip through bridal magazines and think about various wedding arrangements in your daydreams, wedding planning might be the perfect thing for you. A great way to get started is to develop a website on the topic, get to know people online, and offer your services throughout the community.

Source: The Simple Dollar

Last Chance to Sign Up for Talent Hub

If you missed this week’s Talent Hub orientation at the College of Central Florida – Ocala Campus, today is your last chance to sign up for the Monday session to learn about “the new world of work” and kick off this four-week training program and demonstration project for the Citrus, Levy and Marion county workforce region.

Here is an overview of what we’ll cover in Monday’s session:

  1. Trends in the workplace and the “future of work”
  2. The move to a contingent workforce
  3. What it takes to freelance, pros and cons
  4. Top ten freelancing jobs
  5. How to find freelancing opportunities
  6. Preview of the four-week training program
  7. Next steps

Orientation is on Monday, April 30 in Lecanto, from 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm. I hope to see you at Talent Hub! You can sign up on Facebook here or send an email to talenthub@clmworkforce.com – thanks!

In the news … Workforce Connection Launches Talent Hub

Workforce Connection is launching “Your Talent Hub,” an innovative workforce program to assist professionals in transition through crowdsourcing and freelancing opportunities. Our goal is to teach you the skills needed to compete and succeed in the new world of work.

That new world of work is a “Free Agent Nation” of borderless workplaces where freelancers profit by coworking in project-specific virtual teams that form, collaborate, disband and form again. Collectively, there are more than 40 million members in this contingent workforce which companies can tap into to get work done without weighing down the bottom line.

To get started, we are holding two Freelance Talent Hub orientations in partnership with the College of Central Florida (CF): the next one is on Monday, April 30 at the college’s Learning and Conference Center in Lecanto. Next month, we’ll begin a special training program that takes place once a week for four weeks. There is no charge to participate in the training.

You can sign up for the orientation here.

The program will be presented by Steve Urquhart, formerly with Workforce Florida and Enterprise Florida and whose company, T21 Solutions, specializes in workforce alternative strategies and project management. Urquhart, an Army veteran, is also founder of VETSourcing, a nonprofit that helps veterans in the Orlando area make the transition from military service to civilian careers. VETSourcing’s goal is to provide the veterans, especially those with disabilities which preclude traditional employment, with paid work opportunities and projects that will help them earn a living, sharpen their skills, and become increasingly competitive for full-time placements, additional project assignments and greater earning potential.

“Jobs may be in short supply, but in some industries there is actually more work than ever as companies are beginning to ramp back up and prepare for market demands,” Urquhart said.

We are excited about the potential for Your Talent Hub and possibility of opening up this new world of work to those who never thought it was even possible. That’s just the beginning of what’s in store for Your Talent Hub.

If you are interested in joining the talent hub, or just finding out more, sign up for one of the orientations by sending an email to talenthub@clmworkforce.com. You may also call the Talent Hub information line at 800-434-5627 , ext. 1147.

You’ll find a variety of additional information by visiting http://YourTalentHub.com and by following us on Twitter @YourTalentHub and checking us out on Facebook at Facebook.com/YourTalentHub.

The Future of Work … Is Already Here

“In the current economic climate, it makes sense to offer platforms for people to sell themselves. The likes of AirBnB and Couchsurfing, not to mention longer-standing examples like eBay and Craigslist, have shown that the Internet is the best marketplace there is, and there’s clearly money to be made in allowing users to ‘self-serve’ each other with products and services — it may even become a necessity.” — Martin Bryant, The Next Web.

Full article and videos can be accessed here.

Today’s the Day – Orientation Session 1

For those of you who are signed up for today’s Talent Hub orientation at the College of Central Florida – Ocala Campus, I am looking forward to meeting with you and sharing some ideas about “the new world of work” to kick off this four-week training program and demonstration project for the Citrus, Levy and Marion county workforce region.

And if you haven’t signed up, no worries … you can join us this afternoon at 3:00 pm at the Klein Conference Center, Building 40 on this map. The session is scheduled to run 1-1/2 hours, and there will be a period for Q&A at the end.

Here is an overview of what we’ll cover in today’s session:

  1. Trends in the workplace and the “future of work”
  2. The move to a contingent workforce
  3. What it takes to freelance, pros and cons
  4. Top ten freelancing jobs
  5. How to find freelancing opportunities
  6. Preview of the four-week training program
  7. Next steps

We have one more orientation session next week, on Monday, April 30 in Lecanto. I hope to see you at Talent Hub!

 

Talent Hub Orientations on April 25 and April 30

Talent Hub Orientations

Are you ready for something new in your career? Are you looking to boost your earnings potential? Then consider freelancing!

These days, you can work from just about anywhere if you have Internet and a computer or a mobile device. Right now, there are tens of thousands of opportunities from social Media to Project Management to Virtual Assistance to Content Development.

Learn how you can take advantage of your talents and compete in the exciting new world of work by attending one of our orientations.

Orientations:

April 25 CF in Ocala

Sign up here.

April 30 CF in Lecanto

Sign up here.

More information on the flier, linked here.

For more information, send an email and/or call 352-291-9551 or 800-434-JOBS, ext. 1147. You can also learn more by following us on Twitter @YourTalentHub, or “Like” us on Facebook, or visit the microsite here. Or all of the above!

What ROWE Means for the Workplace of the Future

Results Only Work Environment (ROWE)

The Premise of ROWE

Introduced within the “big box” electronics retail giant Best Buy, the Results Only Work Environment (ROWE) concept was built around a fairly basic premise: “People can do whatever they want, whenever they want, as long as the work gets done (Thompson & Ressler, 2008, p. 3).” The initial pilot was developed under the working title “Alternative Work Program” in 2001 as part of a Best Buy corporate effort to become an Employer of Choice. The model followed that of many other companies conducting similar “flex-work” experiments, with the notable exception that the employees themselves were responsible for designing the program based upon their recommendations and preferences for how and when to complete their assigned tasks.

The pilot was ultimately successful and embraced within Best Buy, starting with the pilot of 320 employees, and leading to more than 3,000 Best Buy workers participating in ROWE. Best Buy chief executive officer Brad Anderson has given the program a strong endorsement, stating: “At its heart, ROWE is a chance for everyone to learn a better way to work. It encourages people to contribute rather than just show up and grind out their days. We’ve created a distinctly human culture that … trusts [employees] to do their jobs. ROWE fits in perfectly with those ideals (Thompson & Ressler, 2008).”

The Promise of ROWE

Many companies, particularly in the United States, tend to reward and recognize hours spent at work, referred to as “presenteeism (Thompson & Ressler, 2008).” Working long hours is in some organizations considered a badge of honor, and the authors cite a number of instances where employees who are not making a meaningful contribution to the organization’s bottom line compensate for their incompetence by simply putting in more hours where they are visible to management at their desks. According to the authors, measuring productivity and commitment based on hours spent in the office does foster a workplace that values and rewards this so-called presenteeism, at the expense of real productivity and a genuine focus on individual contribution to the business results.

ROWE seeks to break that pattern by refocusing the way work is done by giving the employees the ability, the support, and most importantly the trust that they need to manage their own schedules and fulfill their commitments on time, in line with all stated expectations, but on their own time.

In the business case created by Thompson and Ressler to introduce ROWE, they emphasize that ROWE is an employee-managed system that is focused on accountability, setting and achieving clear goals, and creating an entrepreneurial environment where employees can take risks, introduce innovative concepts and ultimately stay focused on the needs of the customers, both internal and external.

Real World Examples of ROWE

Best Buy is not the only company that has embarked on this type of work model, and they were not the first or the last to do so. According to a Boston Consulting Group study, 85 percent of business executives are anticipating the increased use of remote working and “unleashed workers (Conlin, 2006).” This already includes companies such as Microsoft, Oracle, IBM, Sun Microsystems, and in some cases even government offices at the state and federal level. Companies that have embraced ROWE have reported encouraging results.

Thompson and Ressler take pains to differentiate ROWE from many of the other initiatives, stating emphatically that “ROWE is not telecommuting, compressed workweek, reduced hours, flexible schedules or a “time off” program (2008).” They have formed a new company, Culture Rx, to guide organizations through the process of implementing ROWE, and count among their clients such firms as GAP Outlet and the Girl Scouts.

Gap Outlet is a division of apparel retailer Gap, Inc., and the ROWE concept was selected by company president Art Peck as a way to improve work-life balance and retention of employees at the company headquarters. Within one year, the company was able to increase its productivity by 21 percent, while reducing turnover to 5 percent and increasing employee engagement scores from 67 percent in the year prior to adopting ROWE to 86 percent at the end of the pilot phase (Fox, 2009).

What ROWE Means for Organizational Development

There are a number of issues that would need to be considered before a company adopts ROWE, among them labor law and classification; management readiness; corporate culture; and ultimately, the ability of the organization to achieve its goals efficiently and effectively with such a system in place. Transitioning to the ROWE model will require a number of critical organizational development (OD) interventions, including a well thought out change management strategy and an assessment of organizational readiness prior to simply instituting the new approach. At the structural level, the entire performance management system would need to be revamped to enable ROWE, and the areas of organizing tasks, jobs and roles would likely require a complete overhaul to actually correspond to the ROWE notion that employee contributions are evaluated based solely on results. The results themselves would have to be carefully reviewed and redefined.

ROWE initiator and CultureRx co-founder Jody Thompson stated, “The biggest challenge for managers is to let go of that physical presence and time piece, and really get clear about goals and expectations with each person and stepping back and letting that happen.”

In an interesting twist, not only are there many people concerned that ROWE could impair management of the organization or lead to a lack of accountability; there are also some people who see ROWE as the final straw in blurring the lines of where work stops and personal life begins. It has even been described as “Machiavellian” in a BusinessWeek article (Conlin, 2006) that goes into depth about the Best Buy experience.

Done correctly, ROWE has the potential to support an organization’s human capital goals through better retention of talent and optimization of individual contributions. In addition, benefits that were realized at Best Buy and at other CultureRx clients included increases in organizational capacity, improved customer satisfaction ratings, increases in employee engagement and morale, and better leverage of technology tools in support of the business objectives.

ROWE is not without its detractors. Its creators acknowledge that it is not yet effective for use in a retail environment but is better suited for the corporate environment such as a headquarters. Thus far, CultureRx has struggled to find companies willing to embark on such a radical change in their approach to managing people, and the Best Buy example may prove to be more of an anomaly because of Best Buy’s culture and leadership.

Paul Rupert, a consultant to Xerox and Wal-Mart, pointed out the following: “You can ridicule an obsession with face time, but some companies have a strong belief that having people at the same place, in the same time, creates synergy that is valuable to the company (Kiger, 2006).” Rupert also pointed out that the leadership team at Best Buy is much younger than that of more traditional companies, and alluded to the possibility that ROWE is more of a generational phenomenon than a workable management practice.

To their credit, the CultureRx consulting team members have put together a number of compelling metrics and key performance indicators to showcase what they see as the positive effects of ROWE, such as: focus when working, productivity, efficiency, control of time, job satisfaction, health and wellness, and work-life balance.

Whether ROWE ultimately catches on, generational changes in the workforce, coupled with today’s technology and increasingly global business environment, will cause the acceleration of similar work practices that will require OD professionals to completely rethink the organization. There was a time when work was a place that you went, because only the factories and offices could economically house the tools and resources needed to perform the typical jobs of that era. In today’s economy, to paraphrase a quote that is frequently uttered but not well attributed, “Work is something you do, not somewhere you go.” With an increasing emphasis on knowledge work, human and intellectual capital comprise the most valuable assets of today’s corporations, and with mobile computing, smart phones and any number of other technology tools available to the modern workforce, much of the work can literally be done, “wherever, whenever.”

Rather than getting caught by surprise as this trend intensifies and permeates today’s corporations and organizations, OD professionals can and should actively look for ways in which appropriate, manageable and effective balances can be struck between the needs of the business, the capabilities of the workforce, and the technology which brings it all together. The companies that learn how to harness the potential of ROWE and other similar approaches will have access to worldwide talent and capabilities unmatched by the traditional companies of today. And if people are truly the greatest asset any corporation has, the companies that master the talent supply chain will dominate their respective industries.

References

Conlin, M. (2006, December 11). Smashing the Clock. BusinessWeek.

Fox, A. (2009, September 8). Gap Outlet: Second Retailer Adopts Results-Only Work Environment Strategy. HR Magazine.

Kiger, P. (2006, September 25). ROWE’s Adaptability Questioned. Workforce Management.

Thompson, J. & Ressler, C. (2008). Why Work Sucks and How to Fix It. New York: Penguin.

Results Only Work Environment (ROWE): What It Could Mean for the Workplace of the Future

The Power of Social Networks in Getting People Back to Work

The Social Network” is not just a movie about how Facebook was launched, it is a critical part of how we interact with others today and how we can tap into the power of physical and virtual networks to stay relevant in the knowledge economy and take advantage of new ways of working such as crowdsourcing, solopreneurship, and the increasingly prevalent contingent workforce model. The session will focus on the following three elements of leveraging social networks.

  1. Being visible.
  2. Being relevant.
  3. Being flexible.

Being Visible: There are so many ways to connect with others and make ourselves known using Web 2.0 resources, such as LinkedIn for developing a virtual Rolodex, Facebook for keeping up with friends and acquaintances, Ning and WordPress for joining or leading virtual “tribes,” and Twitter for sharing bite (or byte) sized information.

Being Relevant: Those of you who have seen the video “Shift Happens” may remember the statement that the Top Ten most in-demand jobs of 2010 did not even exist 10 years ago. Staying current with the changes in technology is no longer optional, as computer literacy IS the new literacy of the 21st century and those who don’t have the skills will be left behind. We will look at what can be done to address this.

Being Flexible: If anyone has read Dan Pink’s “Free Agent Nation,” you won’t be surprised to hear that in the US today, some 40 million people are working in completely new models of employment, including solopreneurs and free agents. We’ll evaluate some of the key developments in the “future of work” and consider the implications and opportunities for workforce and training professionals.

Here is a link to the presentation that I gave at this year’s Southeastern Employment & Training Association (SETA) Spring Conference in Greensboro, NC.