Running the Store From Home

Discussion
Apr 02, 2008

By Bernice Hurst, Managing Director, Fine Food Networks

The stores of the future may be run from home. A report on what The Guardian described as “the nature of employment in 2018” pointed towards a shift from talk about “work-life balance” to more about “work-life integration.”

The report from the UK Chartered Management Institute (CMI) forecast that by 2018, technology will have freed millions of workers to work either all or at least some of the time from home. But this more flexible environment – rather than creating a leisured workforce capable of balancing work and family life more effectively, as once hoped – will instead be the domain of a stressed, 24/7 workforce desperately struggling to meet the conflicting demands of children, elderly dependents, instant communications and global markets.

Besides
technological advancements, part of the reason more people will be working
from home in the future is because of a combination of environmental concerns
and the pressures of needing to be available to care for ageing relatives.

The CMI’s report, entitled Management Futures, identified 17 possible scenarios
that UK organizations could be facing within the next decade, and also surveyed
more than 1,000 senior executives.

In the survey, 74 percent of the execs expected “virtual
teams of employees,” working at a distance from each other, to become the norm
by 2018. About 64 percent thought talented people would become “multi-employed,” 59
percent said job hopping would be commonplace, and 56 percent said most routine
tasks would be automated. Two-thirds of the executives expected global corporations
to exert more influence than governments. About two-thirds also forecast an
increase in customer participation in business decisions and the creation of
products with longer lifecycles to meet environmental concerns.

The Institute
also looked at the best ways of tackling these workplace changes. To achieve
stability and productivity, for example, and make the most of employees’ experience, “companies
would come to regard wisdom as a valuable resource. Some would try to nurture
an organizational memory by arranging rituals and storytelling, and listening
to the accounts of long-term employees.”

Mary Chapman, the Institute’s chief executive, added that “a greater degree of emotional intelligence will be required by managers and leaders so they can understand how people work and their likely reaction to change.”

While acknowledging that the surprise scenarios outlined might not turn out to be accurate, the report did paraphrase the old Scout motto, advising that businesses should be prepared for all sorts of possibilities.

Discussion questions: How do you think issues such as technology, the aging population and eco-concerns will reshape the workplace environment by 2018? How should retailers be preparing to capitalize on these changes? How should managers prepare to handle this new breed of employee?

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10 Comments on "Running the Store From Home"


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Gene Hoffman
Guest
Gene Hoffman
14 years 1 month ago

Present value: When a homemaking consumer and a dedicated store employee give a smile to each other there’s a future in it.

Future value: While many homes have replaced the office, and that will continue, it will much harder to run “your store” and enjoy a good relationship from your home without a smile or eye contact–technology notwithstanding.

Dave Allen
Guest
Dave Allen
14 years 1 month ago
This discussion reflects the reality. While many of these kinds of studies tend to imply that ALL business will go a certain way due to “no loyalty” or “quality of life” issues, the reality is some of them already have. But, as it has been said previously, there remains a significant number of very good companies that are trying each of these ideas as they arise to see how and where they fit in the business environment. It is also VERY product dependent. Amazon has shown how good a web-based company can be done, but even they would say they are still learning. If I am going to invest significant money in a new television, stereo or car, I would probably want to see, hear, touch it first. But I agree that many of these have already been tried. I have been using email in my work since 1991 on a project where my office was in the upper Midwest, the engineering firm was in Philadelphia, and the job site was in New Mexico. It… Read more »
Ryan Mathews
Guest
14 years 1 month ago

Amen Max, I had exactly the same read. For many of us it’s not only 2018 already, it’s been 2018 (at least as they imagine it) for years.

Liz Crawford
Guest
14 years 1 month ago

As a person who works virtually, I can certainly say that it is a game changer, not only for professional life but for personal life as well.

Here are other areas of impact: shifts in fashion/apparel needs, use of gyms & spas, the need for socializing, changes in shopping behaviors, shifts in standards of beauty, and the influence & morphing of communications styles. It can be quite isolating to work from home, but freeing as well. The advantage to scenario planning is examining the 360 impact of change.

Doron Levy
Guest
Doron Levy
14 years 1 month ago

Wow! So they say we can manage stores from home! Sign me up!

Not to discount this report but I don’t see how that is possible in the retail world. Managers need to lead their teams and that would be difficult if the manage wasn’t there. That said, training and staff involvement are the elements that motivate people to do their jobs well. I don’t think you can accomplish any of that via email or netmeeting.

Albert Plant
Guest
Albert Plant
14 years 1 month ago

Retailing is “people-to-people.” If all we are interested in is transactions, so be it. But repeat sales, loyalty, retention and forgiveness are built up over time by relationships. Do we want a Facebook relationship with our clients who provide our income and wealth? I doubt it.

Bill Bittner
Guest
Bill Bittner
14 years 1 month ago
I am not sure how all this applies to store operations, except from the supervisory aspect. Short of putting in vending machines everywhere, it will be a long time before you can have a completely un-staffed retail outlet. Add the requirement for back-up or security, and you are up to at least two people in the store. Retailers deal with the physical world and although a lot of our economy is “going virtual,” distribution of physical goods will always require some human presence. From the supervisory aspect, I have worked with a “retired” convenience store owner who operates several locations. This independently wealthy individual who made his money on the Internet, decided to implement these outlets as a “hobby.” On-site cameras and internet feeds from all in-store computers allow him to remotely view and monitor the activities at each store location. The cameras monitor the store and the outside. New employees are given a tour of the central facility and are completely aware of the surveillance activities meant to protect them (and the owner). The… Read more »
Nikki Baird
Guest
Nikki Baird
14 years 1 month ago
I will tell you that the way I work today is nothing like the way I worked even 5 years ago. I may be checking email at 10pm but I’m also volunteering in my son’s kindergarten classroom at 1pm. I like the name “work-life integration” because it is a better way of describing where I’m at (at least)–it doesn’t matter when or where I work, as long as I get done what needs to be done. I will say that it has not resulted in more stress–in fact, it’s easier to balance work and life when you can do that intra-day and intra-hour, rather than just by trying to unplug on the weekends or something. Now, how do you make that work in the store? I can definitely see possibilities for virtual call centers, where a consumer taps a kiosk for help and gets assistance, not from an employee in the store, but from someone sitting in front of a webcam at their house – which Experticity is trying to do. But ultimately, someone has… Read more »
Max Goldberg
Guest
14 years 1 month ago

What struck me first about the research is that most of the predictions for 2018 have already become reality. Virtual teams of employees already work from home on projects; as companies have show little loyalty to employees, job hopping is commonplace; most routine tasks are automated; consumers already demand a decision in product creation; and eco-friendly products are being rushed to market.

What struck me second is how out of touch the executives in the research seem to be. To not realize that their future predictions are already reality lead me to wonder about the financial health of their companies in 2018.

Mark Lilien
Guest
14 years 1 month ago

In the Workplace Of The Future, press releases advertising “findings” that everyone already knows will be automatically returned to the point of origin with a $500 fine. Self-serving ads “disguised” as press releases will be automatically returned to their authors, who’ll be fined $5,000. Multiple offenders will be sentenced to hard labor, working the graveyard shift for 2 years for a software company famous for depending on the public for pointing out bugs in its poorly tested software.

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