Being self-employed, it is interesting to see how many people work a variety of schedules and are constantly on-the-go. People work in coffee shops, restaurants, parks; even in their cars (haven’t you held a conference call in the Costco parking lot?). The home office can truly become one of a confluence of locations. Witnessing this meld is different than reading about it, and living it even more so.
The growth of mobile is perpetually in the news, along with the latest technology that further enables working from anywhere. Given this, it was surprising to see the recent news of the telecommuting decision made by Marissa Mayer at Yahoo. Especially regarding talk of less innovation coming from those who telecommute versus work in a traditional office setting (Read more about the Yahoo! memo). Richard Branson has publicly disagreed with her decision, calling it “a backwards step in an age when remote working is easier and more effective than ever.” -Virgin blog entry, Feb 25, 2013. Completing their own studies, HBR showed that “individual effort was highest in the 100%-in-house teams. The addition of remote workers reduced the in-house workers’ exertion.” -Harvard Business Review, “New Research: What Yahoo Should Know About Good Managers and Remote Workers”, Feb. 26, 2013. Remote workers may also include outside talent to support internal teams, further lowering in-house workload or bringing incremental expertise. It allows companies to deliver solutions that they may not be able to complete otherwise without increasing staff.
Inspiration arises from varied outside influences.
While working with others may stimulate dialogue leading to new ideas, one must not forget about inspiration influenced by the unexpected. With today’s level of connectivity, working from one location seems limited and confined. Our environment contributes in ways that colleagues do not. Art at a local coffee shop, music, a photograph in a museum – our surroundings can spark creative thinking for developing solutions. The writer of the Harvard Business Review blog cited above also noted, “That should be good news for knowledge companies, because my previous work shows that there are times when the home — or the coffee shop or the library — is a much better place to work than the office.” and that “No other environment will do.”
A combination of collaboration and independence offers the best of both worlds, but the inherent need of flexibility and openness must be present for a balance to be struck. Richard Branson further states, “The world is connected. Companies that do not embrace this are missing a trick.” Full Virgin blog entry.