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How has the working environment changed?

The white-collar working environment has drastically changed over the past two decades, with a sharp increase in ‘agile working’.
Sitting on a rug with laptop and phone

The white-collar working environment has drastically changed over the past two decades, with a sharp increase in ‘agile working’. This is where employees are empowered to work where, when, and how they choose, with maximum flexibility and minimum constraint.

Technological advances in the workplace are an important driver, in particular, the use of smartphones and tablets, which allow access to work emails and documents ‘on the move’. Such flexibility allows employees to more cohesively integrate their work and home lives. However, an unintended consequence may be a blurring of boundaries between work and home domains, resulting in negative impacts on wellbeing and productivity.

A move to agile working may yield some economic benefits to companies in terms of reduced costs for office space and car parking. It is possible that there may be costs to an organisation in that a move to greater levels of agile working may change the relationship between the employer and employee. Individuals may feel less connected with the organisation and its values, with potentially negative consequences for wellbeing and productivity, and an increase in workplace loneliness [1]. Conversely, it is also possible that the ability to work in an agile manner may strengthen the bonds between employer and employee, as the ability to work flexibly is seen as a benefit [2]. An additional societal consequence of increased agile working is the potential for reduced travel if employees choose to work at home. While working from home has been posited as a sustainable solution to working arrangements by reducing minutes spent commuting and alleviating peak-hour congestion research in this area is mixed and in some instances, a rebound effect has been observed, as remote workers tend to live further away from their place of work, which increases subsequent mileage, in addition to running daily errands without typical journey linking.

What changes have you seen in your working environment over the past 10 years?

References

  1. Golden T, Veiga J. The impact of superior–subordinate relationships on the commitment, job satisfaction, and performance of virtual workers. The Leadership Quarterly. 2008;19(1):77-88.
  2. Golden T. Avoiding depletion in virtual work: Telework and the intervening impact of work exhaustion on commitment and turnover intentions. Journal of Vocational Behavior. 2006;69(1):176-187.
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