4 Reasons Telecommuting Can Be Bad for Business
Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer recently changed the company's policy on working from home – requiring that all employees must now report to an office every day. The move sparked protest from telecommuters who claim they're more productive at home, but not everyone disagrees with the decision.
Here are just a few of the pitfalls of a work force that's too virtual.
1. There may be less opportunity for collaboration.
Small companies thrive on innovation, and the best ideas often come from casual conversations that start over coffee or lunch.
"You can't replace the entrepreneurial results of face-to-face collaboration," says Nick Balletta, chief executive of TalkPoint, a webcasting company based in New York, whose clients use its technology for day-to-day communication with colleagues, clients and stakeholders. "As the owner of an IT company, I worry about what three guys in a garage somewhere might develop. I'm not worried about what three guys in three separate garages might do. There's no substitute for what can happen when you get people in a room together."
2. It could become difficult to understand the company's direction.
Execution of a new business strategy can occur only when employees collectively understand the direction as well as the work that needs to be done, says Cindy Lubitz, founder and managing director of inTalent Consulting, an Atlanta-based human-resources consulting firm.
"Mayer was brought in to save an ailing company," says Lubitz. "From my experience with similarly-sized organizations, I know it's difficult to get everyone on the same page when they're scattered -- a webinar or conference call can only get you so far. At this stage in Yahoo's trajectory, it's time to ensure everyone understands and is in close proximity to the new strategic direction."
3. Your company culture may be lost.
While interruptions that can happen in an office setting may decrease productivity, the payback come in the relationships that develop when there is a team working side by side.
"You can't have a virtual happy hour," says Balletta. "Part of the office environment is developing esprit de corp. That's what builds company culture and drives innovation."
4. Low producers could fly under the radar.
Mayer's new policy could create forced attrition. "Those who don't really want to be there will weed themselves out," says Balletta.
"Today, people not only have to work harder and smarter, they have to work together."
Stephanie Vozza is a freelance writer who has written about business, real estate and lifestyle for more than 20 years.