Improvements for Working From Home: Exploring the Difficulties and Possible Improvements for Having a One Person Call Center at Home and Being an Independent Contractor
The organization of your dreams gives you powerful reasons to submit to its necessary structures that support the organization’s purpose. In that company, leaders’ authority derives from the answer to a question that Steve Varley, managing partner of Ernst & Young UK, put to senior partners in his inaugural address, after he reported record profits and partners’ earnings: “Is that all there is?” (In reply, he proposed a radical new direction—a program called “Growing Successfully, Making the Difference”—aimed at achieving both financial growth and social change.) During the past 30 years we have heard the following kinds of conversations at many organizations: “I’ll be home late. I’m working on a cure for migraine.” “Still at work. The new U2 album comes out tomorrow—it’s brilliant.” “Very busy on the plan to take insulin into East Africa.” We have never heard this: “I’ll be home late. I’m increasing shareholder value.”People want to do good work—to feel they matter in an organization that makes a difference. They want to work in a place that magnifies their strengths, not their weaknesses. For that, they need some autonomy and structure, and the organization must be coherent, honest, and open. But that’s tricky because it requires balancing many competing claims. Achieving the full benefit of diversity means trading the comfort of being surrounded by kindred spirits for the hard work of fitting various kinds of people, work habits, and thought traditions into a vibrant culture. Managers must continually work out when to forge ahead and when to take the time to discuss and compromise. Our aim here is not to critique modern business structures. But it’s hard not to notice that many of the organizations we’ve highlighted are unusual in their ownership arrangements and ambitions. Featured strongly are partnerships, mutual associations, charitable trusts, and social enterprises. Although all share a desire to generate revenue, few are conventional, large-scale capitalist enterprises. It would be a mistake to suggest that the organizations are all alike, but two commonalities stand out. First, the institutions are all very clear about what they do well: Novo Nordisk transforms the lives of people with diabetes; Arup creates beautiful environments. Second, the organizations are suspicious, in almost a contrarian way, of fads and fashions that sweep the corporate world. Work can be liberating, or it can be alienating, exploitative, controlling, and homogenizing. Despite the changes that new technologies and new generations bring, the underlying forces of shareholder capitalism and unexamined bureaucracy remain powerful. As you strive to create an authentic organization and fully realize human potential at work, do not underestimate the challenge. If you do, such organizations will remain the exception rather than the rule—for most people, a mere dream.
Even during the 1990s, when this model of videotapes through mail delivery was the dominant form of “distance education,” more than 1,200 U.S. higher-education institutions were engaged in distance education, enrolling over 1 million students per year. From this perspective, IT can be seen as enabling and enhancing a traditional form of public higher education, rather than a completely new approach to higher education. The difference in perspectives may be due in part to differences in assumptions about the content (what) and form (for whom) of higher education, and not just its mechanisms for delivery (how).
A. Aneesh, 2006, Virtual Migration: The Programming of Globalization, Duke University Press, Raleigh, N.C.; M. Baba, 1999, Dangerous liaisons: Trust, distrust, and information technology in American work organization, Human Organization 58(3):331-333;
N. Natalia and E. Vaast, 2008, Innovating or doing as told? Status differences and overlapping boundaries in offshore collaboration, MIS Quarterly 32:307-332;
S.R. Barley, 1990, The alignment of technology and structure through roles and networks, Administrative Science Quarterly 35:61-103;
D.E. Bailey, P.M. Leonardi, and S.R. Barley, 2012, The lure of the virtual, Organization Science 23:1485-1504;