Earlier this year Marissa Mayer of Yahoo put an end to all employees working from home. She gave them four months to either figure out a plan to work at the office or quit. While it sparked some serious controversy it also is a top reason why Mayer said the company wasn’t firing on all cylinders and needed office collaboration. Having employees work remotely can be a nice benefit but it pulls apart the fibers that hold together an office. Employee collaboration is built on everyone being together, like a family. With a percentage of that staff out of the office, the culture starts to shift and over time this can be damaging.
I happen to believe that working remotely can be a good and a bad thing, pending what your company culture is already like and who you are choosing to allow work remotely. It also depends on the departments within your organization and how you choose to build your culture. For example, a team of customer service representatives could probably work remotely, as could a team of developers working on specific projects. However, at some point in time you are going to need to bring them back together for collaboration and unity.
A few years ago I had two remote offices in distant parts of our market territory. I had one particular employee who was stellar at his job, however when he was in the office he tended to cause problems. I knew I had to figure out a way to continue to gain productivity out of him without allowing him to ruffle any feathers while in the main office. He had previously shown stellar results while spending some time in a remote office so I decided to make this his more permanent home.
I approached him from a positive angle, letting him know his productivity was through the roof when he was in our remote office. I showed him his efficiency figures that proved when he was able to block everything out and work alone, he was better. He loves this concept and we worked out an agreement in which he would only work in the main office for roughly 10 hours per week. The plan worked great and actually helped the culture internally.
Not all companies warrant this type of flexibility though and in certain situations it can be damaging. If your structure allows then consider this as an option for specific staff members. But keep a short leash on it should things get out of control. Try a 60 day test time an revisit what went wrong and what could be improved. Remember, a remote employee is not a ticket for them to work less hours.