Telecommuting: Dead or alive?

Moderated by Andrew Nusca | March 4, 2013 -- 07:00 GMT (23:00 PST)

Summary: Will Yahoo's 'no working from home' rule lead more of us back into the office? Should it?

Eileen Brown

Eileen Brown

Dead

or

Alive

Dan Kusnetzky

Dan Kusnetzky

Best Argument: Alive

19%
81%

Audience Favored: Alive (81%)

The moderator has delivered a final verdict.

Opening Statements

Innovation requires face-to-face interaction

Eileen Brown: In this global economic downturn many companies are struggling to survive. In this cut throat market innovation is key to business success. Companies cannot innovate when workers permanently work from home, using asynchronous communication such as Instant Messaging and email, and dialing in to calls and videoconferences.

Face to face interaction inspires and energises workers. Chance conversations in hallways and coffee areas can lead to the next new innovation. Group brainstorming can spark ideas which can get adopted across the company.

This will not happen when workers do not get the chance to regularly spend time with each other.

Occasional days working from home are great to catch up on email, do admin or work on documentation. Isolation from the rest of the team and the company can impact team cohesion, exclude workers from the day to day communication and pulse of an organisation and ultimately destroy workers’ morale.

Technology enables distributed teams

Dan Kusnetzky: Technology today makes it quite possible for teams distributed throughout the world to collaborate as closely as when everyone lived in the same office building and could walk down the hall -- if management awareness, processes and procedures make this possible. The technology is there. Only management willingness and a bit of forethought are needed. Most large organizations have become highly distributed and teams are split all over the planet.

What difference does it really make if those sharing the conference call are in official offices?

Why, then, did Yahoo’s CEO demand that all employees work from offices when it is quite possible for them to work remotely and appear in an official office only when needed? This appears to be an act of desperation having quite a number of unintended negative consequences.

 

Talkback

42 comments
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  • Alive.

    Alive.

    Not every business will do it, but some will. So it's not dead.

    But it's not for every business, either.

    Sometimes I wonder if ZDNet bloggers truly understand the concept of "different businesses have different needs."

    "Will Yahoo's 'no working from home' rule lead more of us back into the office? Should it?"

    It shouldn't. A business should ALWAYS be making its own decisions independently. It should not be following a herd mentality of "do everything the same way as everybody else."
    CobraA1
    Reply 10 Votes I'm Undecided
    • It's not what a lot of people think it is

      Telecommuting in the sense of business travel has changed drastically in the last 20-25 years. There were many times back in the 80's or 90's when we would fly all over for meetings but we do that a lot less now.

      As far as day to day work, telecommuting has its' place. I like working remotely once in a while but it helps to physically be around the team. Flexibility is an asset.
      Schoolboy Bob
      Reply Vote I'm Undecided
  • What a moronic question.

    Of course it's alive, the technology is only getting better. Just look at Google hangout, everything you need for a remote conference is there.
    T1Oracle
    Reply 1 Vote I'm for Alive
    • Broadband Required First

      No chance here only to remain stuck on dial-up BB speeds once Tony gets in come September...
      grump-a1eeb
      Reply Vote I'm Undecided
      • That's fine for you but

        The question is whether it is dead or alive, not whether or no some people still can't take advantage of it. Enough people have broadband for this to work for many corporations. If you can't use it, tough luck, that doesn't mean I won't be using it.

        Actually, if it snows in DC tomorrow I will be telecommuting to work. It's not dead for me or the large company I work for.
        T1Oracle
        Reply Vote I'm Undecided
    • Technology may be getting better

      but technology is usually better than some people will ever be.

      There are 3 kninds of workers. Those that can work remotely with minimal/no distractions. Those that work better closer to the team where closeness helps them focus. And those that need to be in the office with a hot poker in the back to keep them productive.

      I've worked in a cube for 13 years, 6 years on a technical bench and 12 years in a home office. If your boss thinks that you can be trusted, and earned it, fine. If not then prepare for the drive because you MAY have earned that too.
      dave01234
      Reply Vote I'm Undecided
    • Moronic Question?

      No, it's not. I have to admit there might be an attempt to paint the whole world the same color because in some cases it can work well and in other cases it's not practical while in yet others a mix of home/office works very well. You can't just make one blunt, irresponsible statement and expect to garner a readership from it.

      I often worked from home as Director of North America and Pac Rim offices and used the phone/emails for communications, depending on the immediacy of the situation. Working this way saved the company gobs of money in travel and even created some lasting relationships amongst the employees around the world.
      I still went to the offices for all meetiings, confidential work and large, world-wide conference calls to keep the foreign offices all up to date.

      It's meaningless, really, what the vote might be, as it is what it is and smart companies will manage it to their best advantage.
      tom@...
      Reply Vote I'm Undecided
  • Depends on the person and circumstances...

    If someone can prove they are responsible, can get work done, and still keep the lines of communication going, then they should be able to work from home.

    I still believe showing up at least 1-2x a week is good though, but cmon don't act like anybody dreams up great work ideas by talking at a watercooler. They are usually talking about their kids, or last night's tv show or sports game.
    dtdono0
    Reply Vote I'm for Alive
  • Lazy

    I have to drive to work so why shouldn't everyone?

    People that "work" from home spend 80% of their time doing NOTHING productive
    jimbritttn
    Reply 1 Vote I'm for Dead
    • lazy?

      Sounds to me like you are the type who SHOULD be closely supervised.
      Jim Johnson
      Reply 4 Votes I'm Undecided