In the UK, levels of homeworking rose by 20% over the last decade with 12.8% of the workforce (3.7 million people) working mainly at or from home by the end of 2009. The self employed make up approximately two thirds of this number. Although increasing numbers of companies offer staff a chance to do some or all of their work from home many employers still insist on workplace visibility day in and day out.
Perhaps organisations are failing to envision just what a virtual workforce can achieve. In Going nowhere – but fast! E-Employment – the next internet revolution, Business Information Review 27(2), Ron Messer argues that knowledge workers operating in the virtual world represent ‘the primary business assets of the new millennium’. This largely unrealised value lies with their ability to network with others over time and space. Organisational cultures can survive and evolve in the virtual world as evidenced by the successful collaboration of the open source software movement. Just how much of your organisation would be more creative and effective if e-employment was the norm?