There is a huge debate right now about whether working from home can be effective.
On the one side of the debate: Marissa Mayer (CEO of Yahoo) recently told her workers that they are no longer allowed to work from home. Michael Bloomberg (mayor of NYC) has said that working from home is “one of the dumber ideas I’ve ever heard”.
On the other side are companies like 37signals (of the project management software Basecamp), whose founders wrote a bestselling book called Remote about the remote working phenomenon. Richard Branson also talks in his blog about how “one day offices will be a thing of the past”.
I think this debate is missing some major points:
Working and hiring ONLY locally is incredibly restrictive
There is a limit to the talent and the availability of people within a geographic location. As an extreme example, if your company is located in a small town of 1,000 people, you’re limited to hiring only from those 1,000. Can you find exactly the person you are looking for? Probably not. If you can’t find that person why not consider hiring from across the entire country, or around the world?
Even if you live in a large city, your options locally are significantly more limited than hiring from the entire planet. For each type of position, there are cities and countries where the right combination of talent and skills is more available.
At Staff.com, our philosophy is this: when your company has a new job opening, that the FIRST decision you should make is which country you are going to hire from.
TRUST is one of the major reasons employers do not accept remote work
There is the cold hard reality that many employers do not fully trust that their team members are actually working. They have a sneaking suspicion that their team might be on Facebook, sleeping in, or working half days.
85% of fortune 500 companies monitor employee computer use at work. This is a rarely mentioned but common reason why companies are not allowing employees to work from home.
Our perspective on working from home
Here are some thoughts we have on working from home based on our experience:
- Not everyone prefers to work from home, but most people really enjoy the flexibility it provides.
- Some jobs are very suitable for remote work. For example software development requires long periods of concentration, and is very suited to this type of work environment.
- Some level of external discipline or tracking of attendance and productivity is needed for most people, whether working remotely or not. Coming to the office each day is an easily measurable event, and although it does not measure productivity in itself, it’s an act of daily self discipline that is necessary for most people. In our company, we developed the Time Doctor software to help us track the attendance and productivity of staff that are working from home.
I would love to know your perspectives on working from home and who you think is winning the argument. Share us your thoughts in the comments section below!
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