Ready for some massive changes in white collar employment?

A few weeks ago I wrote about how working from home could affect every business, because even if our company doesn’t do it, competitors might. That will have an impact on recruitment, if nothing else. I think there’s more to be said, however.

My extensive experience of this way of working is that most companies view it in the wrong way. They fear that their staff’s productivity will drop if they can’t keep an eye on them. The opposite is true: remote staff tend to work longer hours, as well as wasting less time travelling to the office and socialising within it. Indeed, there’s a problem sometimes of remote staff working too hard and too flexibly. Rules have to be set so that emails are not sent at 11pm, because home-working recipients usually feel obliged to act on them. Most enlightened employers will understand that this is a bad thing.

There’s another problem in the office environment which isn’t discussed enough: staff padding out their work to fit the arbitrary 8-hour day. Home-workers may be trickier to manage, but they’re also able to knock off when the work is done, and work longer when the commitments require. This is good for everyone.

I’ve seen many predicted revolutions fail to happen over the past 40 years, from the fully-robotised factory to the paperless office. But I do think the next decade will see some massive changes in white collar employment. Companies will be bought simply to transform them to more progressive and profitable ways of working. Business parks will spring up purely to house remote workers (they won’t all be at home). The market for zero-hours contract administrative workers will grow hugely. Above all, many more people will organise their work around their life, instead of defining themselves by the tasks given to them by their employer.