I was reading the latest from BusinessWeek Online and didn't have to get past the headline "Are There Too Many Women Doctors?" to get a bit irritated.
It turns out that women work slightly fewer hours than men because they spend more time taking care of their kids. This disparity puts pressure on other doctors--generally male, oftentimes older--who are left to pick up the slack. The study also points out that women often go into underserved areas like primary care or pediatrics, which pay less than other medical specialties, in order to gain scheduling flexibility. Anyone who succeeds in scheduling an appointment with a primary care physician or pediatrician likely benefits from the decisions many women doctors make.
When you need to be seen by a doctor, you need to be seen by a doctor, but the article got me thinking afresh about the value of working in an office building surrounded by coworkers vs. the obvious trend toward electronic communications and remote work. Indeed, I've always wondered what it says about me that my best client relationships are often with the people who I rarely see.
At the same time, I benefit enormously from being able to walk down the hallway and ask 15 other VPs what they think about my PR conundrum of the day. It's hard to say no to collaboration when someone plops themself down in your office, but certainly my colleagues could make their excuses about being busy and I'd clear out.
This is nice, but what I always find interesting is that colleagues working in other cities, whom I've never met in person, are just as willing to help. A little stroll down the digital hallway is just as effective as seeing people face to face.
Of course there's business you can conduct only in person. But when you've got a group of people with common interests, do you have better relationships with those you can see? Is there clear value to being in the office simply to be in the office--to putting in that face time?
My hope, and I'm pretty optimistic that this is really happening, is that social media allows groups of people with similar interests not just to compare pet peeves on Facebook or to post photos of their vacations, but to remove most of the need for face time. It'll probably be of minimal use to the 50 percent of medical students today who are women, but for the rest of us who are looking to "be there" for both our families and our employers, the ability to interact in a way that's increasingly targeted and personal--yet is entirely electronic--sure holds a lot of promise.Tags: social media, women in business
Posted by Laura Kempke on June 25, 2008 at 12:54 PM