Every morning I get copied on emails from people who have decided to Work From Home (WFH) that day. It took me quite a while to accept WFH as a valid alternative to being in the office. I understand that some large US companies have decided that WFH doesn’t actually work and have instituted a requirement for people to spend a number of hours in the office each week. In some extreme cases, I understand that employee’s are being told to relocate closer to an office or resign.
There are a number of advantages to being close to people when you are working on a project, but all of those examples generally create a work environment that is less than ideal. I know that when I work at home my efficiency increases by a surprising amount. That said there are different kinds of distractions like dishes, laundry, etc and it takes conscious effort to remind yourself that you are a professional and your time is not entirely your own.
I’m noticing a backward trend south of the boarder in many different areas, so I’m not surprised that this trend has started to effect technology workers. I think that this trend actually gives the rest of the world a chance to lead through example. I have adjusted my position on WFH and I believe that we may actually see companies spending a lot less on physical buildings. High speed, always on, network connections make distributed work forces actually work.
How do I know that WFH is working for my company?
In order for this approach to work, employees have to be able to connect ad hoc, with little or no notice. Employers may impose new requirements with respect to being reachable and we may see response times tracked as a metric. An unreachable employee doesn’t add a lot of value.
It will take some companies time to understand what WFH means for their people. It is not uncommon for companies to have concerns about employees working from home. A colleague of mine pointed out recently that if you don’t trust your employees, why did you hire them?
In a previous post, I suggested that work environment is something that will help retain employees and is actually valued more than salary in many cases. WFH gives the company a way to save on infrastructure and the employee a way to improve their work environment.
Sounds like a win – win to me.