Is “work from home” the future for all of us?

According to an IPSOS study, almost 80% of workers believe that telecommuting provides the ability to find the much sought “work life balance”, that chimera which usually consists of balance the time devoted to work, family and leisure.

The time, that so precious and yet so expensive good, would seem to be more controllable: “By not having to commute to the office, they will save an average of 1.5 hours per day, equivalent to 15 days per year. Work from where you want, not having to travel, to manage a flexible schedule, also has a positive effect on health: 73% of telecommuters say they have a healthier diet, and stress level is reduced by 25%, “says Alex Konanykhin, KMGi Group founder and CEO of Transparent Business.

More data put us in this new reality of the labor market: in 2012, the population of mobile workers will be estimated at 1200 million people worldwide. “This means that 35% of workers worldwide perform its tasks outside the office at least once a week, and that 7% will do steadily in the form of cyber work” asserts Konanykhin.

Cisco estimates that if 50 million people will work part time from home in the United States, greenhouse gas emissions could be reduced by 51 million tons per year.

In his book, “The Age of Access”, economist Jeremy Rifkin talks that the access era in which we live “conform a set of assumptions for business which are very different to the market. Physical, specific, predictable and safe markets are replaced for networks, vendors and buyers are changed by providers and users and almost all products acquire the feature of access. The “property” as physical workplace is also transformed.

The old businesses model of a large corporate building, where people spent eight or nine hours a day, is also disappearing. “The new digital tools are helping to give birth to a new paradigm of work in which there are no offices, strict schedules, dress codes or eternal travel to the workplace,” adds Konanykhin.

In the past, the productivity of an employee was very difficult to measure. In the hands of business management platforms via the web, companies can recruit staff anywhere in the world safely. We talk about Social Pulse of Transparent Billing (among other online tools) that help end the limits imposed by distance, “your business can be in Miami and hire a graphic designer in Hamburg, monitor his homework and have a real time tracking over the Internet “emphasizes Konanykhin.

Crowd sourcing, in this sense, is also another form of Internet access to enable remote business opportunities. Choosa is an example of how an idea or a design can come from anywhere in the world, simply putting online a contest of creativity.

The labor market has become a truly global environment, where professionals can offer their talents across boundaries, and businesses can access the best professionals in an easy and dynamic way. “The result is spectacular for the price you pay. They take quantity and variety of ideas and even after the contest may be in contact with the creative. They become fans of the form”, says Peter van Grinsven, Managing Director Choosa.

One option for companies that outsource certain processes is put them in the hands of the masses to harness collective intelligence of a hyper-connected society. This is called crowd sourcing. Virtually all business functions could experience the benefits of this formula. For example, in the area of ​​innovation and development, more and more companies take advantage of Web 2.0 network as a means to “permeate” their structures and adopt models of ‘open innovation’ through which get ideas and feedback from other institutions, companies and individuals -that had been labeled as “non-business in a traditional view” or even competitors- on projects that, from the same perspective, would have been regarded as top secret. In this context arise the “solutions markets” such as InnoCentive, a virtual platform driven by Lilly pharmaceutical through which companies can raise the scientific community the challenges faced in research and development, and choose the best among the solutions received.

At other times the own customers of the company, its users or their “followers”, assume functions that were previously performed by employees of the company. There are some cases like Mozilla, which has found that their user communities can best help find critical bugs in its software, or the NASA own space agency, which, with its Clickworkers program has outsourced, in a community of more 80 thousand volunteers, the tedious work of identifying and classifying craters on the surface of planets and asteroids.

In parallel, we witness the rise of so-called “virtual professional communities”; platforms as CrowdSpring or TopCoder where there are professionals who are specialized in certain disciplines, such as design or programming, and compete to be hired by a company that needs to develop a project. Besides functioning as a market, these platforms have a community component oriented professional development of its members and some even incorporate virtual work environments where carrying out the projects.

Can Akdeniz

Can Akdeniz is the author of seven books and founder of Business Hacker, a popular business blog. His books such as Go Nuts, Cool Boss, Happy Company and MBA 2.0 have changed how people think about business, productivity and work.

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