Michael LoBue writes: I returned today from the 2010 ASAE Annual Meeting in Los Angeles. Another good meeting and conference. It appears that there’s a growing interest among small staff organizations to abandon the main office (or any leased office space) and have employees work from their homes. This trends seems like an exercise in tossing a few chairs off the deck and rearranging a few other chairs on the deck. It also seems driven by the desire for cost savings and not a desire for improvements, although direct cost savings can be achieved and some productivity gains can be realized under the right circumstances.
Clearly, there are benefits if the situations and the personnel are right for such an arrangement. However, it just seems short-sighted. As I listened to a presentation some questions came to mind:
- What happens when you bring the first new staff person into the virtual office arrangement? It’s one thing to ask a group of staff members who comfortable with their jobs and who know one another after sharing an office, to work from home than it is to recruitment and orient new staff into a virtual office arrangement.
- While the organization is no longer writing rent and utility checks, the list of employer concerns (see Figure 1) remain. How do these concerns change and might there be new employer concerns resulting from the arrangement?
- How does working from home enhance the staff’s professional development in this isolated arrangement?
- Where is the organization or their membership in these issues raised in the presentation? (Not a single slide in this excellent presentation contained the word “member”, or discussed how this arrangement adds value to the members of an organization.
Based on yesterday’s presentation it’s clear that this notion about “going virtual” is aimed at saving costs. Clearly a worthwhile objective, but this new piecemeal approach cannot touch the benefits delivered by the AMC-model: