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What do the big tech companies know that we don't?

It might it be a simple case of "the cobbler's children never having shoes". Or when it comes to remote and flexible work practices, perhaps some of the big tech companies know something we don't?

We've been progressively building the case for flexible working through a few posts. And the conclusions so far are that flexible working is most certainly a good thing in principle.

But looking beyond the principles, we should be considering some real world examples. Why have some of the large tech companies tried and failed to get this off the ground? Why are some reportedly making changes in working policies that don't obviously align to their embracing flexible working themselves?

So let's reflect a little on the two sides of the coin. On one hand you would assume that tech companies would pioneer the use of technology to fully mobilise and distribute their workforce. As an indutry that has battled more than most in the 'war for talent' over the past decade - surely they would 'live the dream'. And seek to create a highly flexible, distributed and well balanced workforce that is not required to attend an office location ever, or at least with any frequency.

They have both strong technical capabilities in collaboration as an organisation, and sometimes in the products they make and an array of technical natives across their employee base. adoption of remote collaboration technology wouldn't be an issue right?

On the other hand, according to reports from various perspectives, the reality for organisations such as Yahoo, Google and Facebook is very different. Google allegedly have 'as few as possible' people authorised to work from home, or outside of a corporate office location. Yahoo infamously completely banned remote working for all staff and more recently there has been some attention paid to Facebook's move to compensate staff to move closer to the office.

So what is driving what some might consider to be a contradiction? The Facebook example is of course slightly different to the others in as much as this does not reflect on not allowing, or limiting as much as possible the ability for staff to work remotely. But it does still reflect the value placed upon having people in the office. Should we be asking ourselves if collaboration technology, even driven the people that make it, an adequate alternative to having everyone in one physical place.

Following a brief diversion in to usage and adoption of collaboration technologies in the next few posts, we'll dig a little deeper in to the growing wave of 'Activity Based Working'. In particular the significant focus, on the ability for workspace, designed correctly, to drive serendipitous and creative outcomes for the organisation.

At the same time we'll consider the practicalities and costs (both operational as well as environmental) of getting everyone to the same physical space between 9-5 every day.

Also, what about the social and personal costs of the growing daily commute? We'll look to pull out some pragmatic conclusions. Although in my experience, it does often come down to the unique circumstances of the organisation itself, and of course where it is based.

Again, this could just be a case of "the cobbler's children never having any shoes"? I'd be interested in reading any comments or insights you might want to add to this discussion.

Go to Telstra Exchange for more on Collaboration.