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Like many other business management trends, this one requires careful application. Some managers get uneasy when their direct reports are no longer in close physical proximity. If your answers favor the alternative workplace, launch a simple pilot project and then phase in more people over time, tailoring the program with employee feedback as you go.The Idea in Practice Notable cost savings from alternative-workplace arrangements lead some business decision makers to think that these arrangements are the wave of the future. If your structure and systems are designed for face-to-face interaction, the potential for alternative workplaces may be limited. Do you have an open culture and proactive managers? Thinking through these issues will help identify jobs that can be filled via alternative workplaces. Start with sales, project engineering, and other areas where employees are largely self-directed.After all, they are already self-motivated, relatively autonomous, and results oriented.So they have the most to gain and the least to lose from influencing their peers to accept and adapt to AW work.Otherwise, the AW initiative will be swamped by the sheer weight of these changes.But once the tide of change has begun to roll, AW employees can become strong advocates for extending the initiative throughout the organization.Yet leading organizations, such as those cited in this article, have shown that the AW concept applies to a large and growing segment of the workforce.Ironically, in this new paradigm, the youngest are the most skilled, the oldest are the most awestruck, and the middle-aged are the most resistant to the changes in mind-set and rituals that the alternative workplace requires.
Some managers argue that alternative workplaces hurt employee cohesion, while others say “just give ‘em a laptop and a cell phone, and they’ll be fine.” How can you sort through the myths and misconceptions to determine if the alternative workplace is right for your organization? Give careful thought to what you’ll do to ensure that remote employees still feel “in the loop.” Finally, see to it that managers are given guidance in monitoring remote employees, that employees know what results they’re expected to achieve, and that other stakeholders such as customers are fully informed. Employees ranging from the CEO to phone operators were part of an experiment that involved 100,000 people. To explore how far a vast organization could go in transforming the workplace by moving the work to the worker instead of the worker to work.Employees in the alternative workplace are usually more productive than their traditional counterparts because they learn how to juggle priorities and minimize downtime by making phone calls, writing E-mail, clearing accounts, and performing numerous other routine tasks during the short pockets of time between other commitments throughout the day.But AW employees also are hampered by home and office designs.Another reason is the potential to increase productivity.Employees in the alternative workplace tend to devote less time and energy to typical office routines and more to customers.