Is working from home ‘a matter of trust’? The Guardian supplement on ‘Top Employers Uk’ (28 February 2015) says so. But trust on what? On work being done? Well, that’s easy to see. And working non-from-home does not ensure ‘work done’. People working together in the same floor, or next door office, may not get ‘the work done’. Proximity is not a guarantee of efficiency for sure.
So, what trust is it? Presenteism? The idea that you are paid to be present? Well, if you are going to pay your people for showing off, then it is a sad state of affairs.
Is it then the problem one of ‘effectiveness’? Not really. Working from home may be more effective in some cases. People say, I am less distracted, more focused, nobody is nagging and distracting me. Bot working at the office is nor necessarily and always innefective!
Working ‘from home’ or ‘not from home’ may be good or bad. But the single impossible-to-disagree variable is the existence, or not, of human interaction. If you care for this, then you will be biased towards the ‘physical presence’. People will argue that there can be as much human interaction when ‘from home’. The reality is that unless you have a very sophisticated system at home, such as tele-presence, the interactions become screen-to-screen or voice-to-voice.
Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo, created havoc when a couple of years ago announced the end of the ‘working from home’ policy. But her point was about collaboration and human interaction. It was a lousy announcement in the way it was done, and required lots of ‘explanations’ afterwards. The noise was incredible, considering that the policy would affect a tiny part of Yahoo work force.
Marissa Mayer had a point.
I have this dream that when everybody will work from home, the ‘competitive advantage’ will be easy to achieve. It will come from those working face to face.
The ‘working from home’ discussion is politically (correctness) charged. It has become a bit of a mantra/sacred cow, a sign of flexibility. But flexibility for what? Can we compare writing a piece of report, or writing code, or reviewing materials with discussing a new project, exploring options or brainstorming? Let alone, literally working together on something? What about looking at each other’s eyes? What? You don’t do that in your business?
The topic may suck too much energy and loose its proper discussion. Personally, I have the two extremes of experience on people working for me: from extraordinary accomplishments of people on a eight hour time difference, to disappearance in a Bermuda Triangle of people living 10 minutes from my office.