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FORTUNE: Trapped in cubicles – Mar. 9, 2006:
“A 2005 survey by Milwaukee’s Dieringer Research Group reported that 26 million Americans use broadband to do work from home. Sales reps and consultants have always worked remotely; now finance people, lawyers, administrators, researchers, and creative types can too. Just as infotech has enabled companies to offshore white-collar functions, it also untethers Stateside employees from their cubes.”
This article gives a nice history of the invention and roll out of the cubicle into Office culture of the late 20th century. Towards the end of the article it starts to point towards where the trends might be going. How congressman Frank Wolf (R) of Virginia has made telecommuting a pet project for federal workers. How companies from Cisco to HP and many others are saving a great deal of money on real estate by allowing more employees to work from home.
For those of us who work or have worked from home, many of the benefits are obvious. No commute, less wasted time preparing in the morning. More comfortable and spacious environment best headphones under 100 to work & typically a window to look out of. The obvious downside is that sometimes face time is important. Gathering a team together for a meeting where everyone is present and not conferencing in remotely is almost impossible these days.
We are all realizing how beneficial it is to get out of the cubicle. Next, we have to start sharing and benchmarking on some of the methods that make telecommuting successful.
At the end of the day, it does a company little good to have 25% of their work force banging away at a keyboard to generate reports that are never read in full or powerpoint presentations that cannot be viewed by the entire team. We have to focus on those practices, technologies and concepts that enable us to communicate as effectively from a distance as we can in person.
Video conferencing has improved significantly but has not been integrated well into all systems and cultures. Remote web conferencing programs are very beneficial, but often plagued with minor on the spot technical glitches that detract from a presentation, Plus they are expensive as a service offering!
Word documents generate too much text that never gets the full in depth review it deserves by too many team members, and PDF documents which provide the ability to lock down text and prevent manipulation can sometimes be even more problematic as they do not scroll as easily as a word document. Too often PDF documents get printed, wasting paper, just because its less efficient to view them on a computer.
Websites are a boon, as they are becoming much more interactive at communicating ideas in through multiple vehicles from text to pictures, sound, video, slide shows and animations. They also require an active navigation of the user. However, if the user gets off the recommended path in a website, they may miss something very important.
This all leads up to one of the core tenants of Maven Mappers. There is a telecommuting benefit in utilizing mind maps to communicate an idea. Maps provide the path and connections through which a user can navigate. They incorporate some visual ques along the way to speed recognition and comprehension. Future versions will carry sound and video embedded options as well.
Telecommuters need to utilize tools such as mind maps to insure that their ideas are communicated fully at a glance when someone views their work presented in a map form.