Discuss: Space and Telecommuting

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Discuss: Space and Telecommuting

Discuss: Space and Telecommuting

New approaches to work such as workplace fl exibility and remote work combined with newer collaboration and social technologies, mobile technologies, and cloud computing have drastically changed the way we work. This chapter explores the impact technology has on the nature and design of work. A Work Design Framework is used to explore how digital technology can be used effectively to support these changes and help make employees more effective. In particular, this chapter discusses technologies to support communication and collaboration, new types of work, new ways of doing traditional work, new challenges in managing employees, and issues in working remotely and on virtual teams. It concludes with a section on change management.

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Digital Systems and the Design of Work

Consumer fi nancial services powerhouse American Express viewed workplace fl exibility as a stra- tegic lever. Its award‐winning BlueWork program was a good example of turning strategic intent into action. In addition to receiving the Chairman ’ s Award for Innovation—Top Innovators Prize, the BlueWork program enabled increased employee productivity and more than $10 million in annual savings from reduced cost of offi ce space. 1 BlueWork was Amex ’ s term for arrangements for fl exi- bility in workspace. Integrated into the company ’ s human resource policies, the fl exibility included staggered working hours, off‐site work areas such as home/virtual offi ce arrangements, shared offi ce space, touch‐down (laptop‐focused, temporary) space, and telecommuting. The corporate focus is on results rather than on hours clocked in the offi ce and face‐to‐face time. But BlueWork also supported the sustainability and corporate social responsibility objectives. According to the Amex Web site,

Our sustainable facilities story is also woven into the fabric of our employees ’ daily routine. BlueWork, our fl exible workplace program, allows American Express employees to better utilize company work space and work remotely. The installation of 63 telepresence studios in 46 offi ce locations encourages virtual meetings, reduces the need for travel, and contributes positively to our carbon reduction target. 2

Employees are assigned to a type of work arrangement based on their role. Hub employees require a fi xed desk because they work in the offi ce every day. Club employees can share time bet- ween the offi ce and other locations because their roles involve both face‐to‐face and virtual meet- ings. Home employees work from home at least three days a week. Roam employees are on the road or at customer sites. Susan Chapman, SVP at American Express commented on the importance of

1 Christopher Palafax , “ American Express ’ s New Design Team ,” American Builders Quarterly (April/May/June 2014), http:// americanbuildersquarterly.com/2014/american‐express/ (accessed August 25, 2015); http://www.employeralliance.sg/toolkit/tool kit/tk1_13_2a.html (accessed August 25, 2015); Monak Mitra , “ Best Companies to Work for 2012 ,” The Economic Times, http:// articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2012‐07‐16/news/32698433_1_employee‐benefits‐jyoti‐rai‐american‐express‐india (accessed August 25, 2015) ; Jeanne Meister , “ Flexible Workspaces: Employee Perk or Business Tool to Recruit Top Talent? ” Forbes (April 1, 2013), http://www.forbes.com/sites/jeannemeister/2013/04/01/flexible‐workspaces‐another‐workplace‐perk‐or‐a‐must‐have‐to‐attract‐ top‐talent/ (accessed August 25, 2015) . 2 American Express Corporate Social Responsibility Report, Quarter 3 2014 Update , http://about.americanexpress.com/csr/crr‐2014‐ q3.aspx (accessed August 25, 2015)

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