Last week, the Washington Post reported that “President Trump’s government is scaling [telework] back in multiple agencies on the theory that a fanny in the seat prevents the kind of slacking off that can happen when no one’s watching.”
What we’re seeing is a clash between the traditional definition of knowledge work – seated in a chair in a centralized commuter office (CCO) after taking a vehicle to work – and the inherent constrained capacity of 20th century transportation systems in metro areas to accommodate that mode of working.
Organizations can insist all they want that knowledge work can only be performed in CCOs 8-5, Monday-Friday. But roads and highways are fixed, limited real estate that cannot flex to accommodate all the rush hour transportation demand that generates. The result is crippling traffic congestion, a giant time suck and numerous adverse effects on organizations and knowledge workers.
In the 21st century, information and communications technology replaces the pavement and the vehicle to bring knowledge work to the knowledge worker. We need to adjust our thinking and expectations.