Looking through the Microsoft survey on “The Future of Government Work,” [download PDF] it would seem that there is a bipolar view of what communication tools workers “prefer” to use versus what they would “like to use.” Take a look at the answers provided on questions 9 and 10 when it comes to “new” media such as Social Media, Online Collaboration tools, and even video conferencing:

Q9: How do you prefer to communicate with colleagues?

  • Videoconferencing = 3%
  • Social Media = 3%
  • Intranet page (w/shared documents) = 2%
Q10: Which collaboration tools would you like to use?
  • Videoconferencing = 29%
  • Social Media = N/A
  • Collaborative Doc Editing = 32%
  • Intranet = 12%
Granted, there is the difference in verbiage of “communicate/collaborate” but I think we are looking at two sides of the same coin here. How is it that the answers to these two question be so far apart? My guess (and that’s all it is), is that what we are looking at in question 9 is “how do you communicate/collaborate now” versus question 10’s “how would you like to communicate/collaborate if you could.” It would seem that there is a desire to use more videoconferencing, non-email electronic communications (aka chat), and collaborative document editing resources. The survey also points out that these resources are needed components of any telecommuting policies and procedures that an office may implement.
Now I should mention that the survey was conducted by Microsoft, and their MS Office 365, Cloud-Based platform solution, so the questions may be worded in such a way as to feed the answers into the “solution” they are providing. One of the glaring facts of this is that Q9 includes a social media answer, where it is completely missing from the Q10 responses. It could be that workers don’t like social media resources… but, it’s more likely from the fact that there isn’t a social media product included in the Office 365 platform (yeah, call me a cynic.) 

There are many ways you can read these survey results, but there is a theme here that we’ve all been seeing anecdotally for the past few years. Given the right tools, the location of your people shouldn’t matter in order for them to be successful. Not only that, but many workers have the desire to use these resources in order to make their work lives better… probably making their home lives better at the same time. It is no longer a requirement for companies to require their workforce be physically in a company office, sitting in a company seat, using a company PC, and working with company software. The time has come to start looking at the way we work through a different lens.