Work from home that bad?

With the recent brouhaha about working from home at a conspicuous company we decided to contribute to the discussion. We think also that there were probably ways to meet the objectives of this company’s CEO while not fully eroding the work from home idea and irritating some of the employees. We think we have a rather unique perspective that can help. The founders of Value Transformation are not in the same state. We are not able to meet each other in the hallway for discus-sions. However, we have managed to author 5 books (actually 7 if you include two monographs for Redwood Collaborative Media) as well as speaking events, and training materials developed, all while holding down significant day jobs. The only time we meet in person is when we present at the same conference. However, we talk frequently via the omnipresent communications media. We can generate graphics quickly by passing them back and forth from 2000 miles away. We work with mind mapping tools, each adding our contribution and building upon the other the same way we write. Distance need not be an impediment to success or achievement.

If the CEO were to find the company being taken advantage of by some population of those working from home, certainly the company can adjust around just those employees. Hiring the right people for both the specific tasks and the environment in which those tasks are executed is in the managerial domain. Some people simply do not work well from home. Specific objectives with defined work packages and their ensuing products will let management know if the employee is capable of working from home.

Here is one compromise. CEO’s may be concerned that the exchanges between the employees may not be as free as it could be without being colocated. There is some merit to the saying “out of sight, out of mind” and the same could be true for personal interactions. If that is a concern, a solution that could meet a CEO’s objective and still maintain the commitment of the employees would be to mandate some days of the week to face time and office interaction. For example, Monday, Wednes-day and Friday are work from home and Tuesday and Thursday you must be in the office. If the CEO were more concerned with the face time, the schedule could be flipped so more of the time was dedicated to communication vis-a-vis.

Lastly, it seems as if this change in policy may have some basis in power assertion. If, for example a CEO would alter the building to make it possible to have family at work (the reverse of work from home) while pooh-poohing others from working from home we see evidence of a double standard. Perhaps the CEO should allow all of the employees to bring their family, especially their children, to work.

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