Yesterday the Washington Post fed the insecurities of American workers with the headline, "As Cuts Loom, Will Working From Home Lead to a Layoff?" My response "Only if we are committed to a work model inspired by the 1950s and 'working stupid' by rigidly adhering to old work models that are less effective." I've been working in a virtual work environment for over 10 years. This means I work at home or wherever I happen to be, and so does everyone else I work with at MoveOn.org and MomsRising.org. It is hard for me to imagine a more efficient, effective, family-friendly and environmentally sound model for my work. I am amazed by how much stuff gets done every day, and how well balanced my life is overall. If my daughter gets sick, I don't miss work. I'm still able to do what needs to be done and also take care of her. I walk downstairs to work. I have great relationships with my co-workers... I just don't actually see them in-person very often.
MoveOn has over 5 million members. Our job is to listen to our members and empower them to be a powerful grassroots voice supporting common sense policies that they prioritize. Our core staff has typically numbered under 20 and we are dispersed throughout the country. We supplement that staff with key contractors who are also dispersed throughout the country. One elegant aspect of not requiring people to work in any specific geographic location is the freedom it gives them to be with spouses wherever they need to live. In fact this distribution into communities across the country has helped MoveOn staff stay grounded and helps inoculate us against the alternative reality bubble that tends to hover over Washington D.C. More organizations need to consider encouraging their work force to work from home!
Mother's Day 2006, I co-founded MomsRising.org, a virtual organization to speak to the needs of mothers and families. There was no doubt in my mind that we would be a virtual organization. Having experienced both brick and mortar and virtual work environments I saw no reason to even consider a physical facility. So let's not allow our economic downturn to cause us to revert to outdated work models that aren't in fact good for the bottom line or workers. In fact, studies show that flexible work options bring huge benefits to the business who offer them via increased employee productivity, decreasing costs, lowering turnover, and much more. This is a win-win for both businesses and employees.
How can I adequately describe the advantages of virtual work? It is the quintessential results-only-work environment. It is all about what you produce. There is no commute time, a saner lifestyle, and a lower carbon footprint. There's no better way to work!