Does working from home work?
IACCM surveys tell us that many contracts and commercial practitioners work from home. They also confirm that flexibility over location, working hours and conditions are of major importance when selecting or remaining with an employer. It is clear that such benefits significantly reduce the importance of traditional drivers, such as salary.
The cost advantages for an employer are obvious – a major reduction in fixed facilities and their operating expense, the possibility to reduce travel costs by having people located within their territory etc. But are their disadvantages? In particular, do creativity and learning suffer?
That appears to be the conclusion reached by Yahoo, which has announced that by the middle of this year it plans to have all its staff working from office facilities. In an attack on this concept, Jeanne Roue-Taylor points to the irony of its adoption by a web-based company that advocates remote working.
I do have some sympathy with Yahoo. it does seem to me that the interchange of ideas and experiences suffers in a virtual environment. Perhaps if we are working within a dedicated development team, that may not be the case. But for individuals who are really busy performing their daily tasks, the casual conversations that occur in a workplace become a luxury. Cross-learning and experience exchange become far harder to achieve.
Perhaps the answer depends in part on the nature of work being performed. It would be interesting to see whether there is any correlation between the extent of home-working and the extent of innovation within the business sector.