They’ve banned working from home.
I used to love working from home. A full day of total concentration. No interruptions. No pointless meetings. No fire extinguisher training. They were often the most tiring days I did. I worked constantly for 8 hours or so. No commute. No nonsense. You get a real feel for your natural rhythms. My rhythm is to get up and then mess round for a few hours – cycle, eat, email. Small stuff. Then work like a maniac from about noon till 8pm. That’s what I do without outside interference.
When working from home I used to do what I considered to be “big stuff” – real thinking time, planning, mapping things out. That kind of stuff.
I loved it.
I used to have staff who would ask to work from home as well. I was never really comfortable with saying yes. There was never a good reason. And they didn’t like me asking them to show me what they’d done with that day. The objective seemed to be to “catch up with email”. This is a poor reason to work from home.
I am not untrusting by nature but I often didn’t trust them to put a shift in, as they say.
Organisations are about teamwork. There are many, many horrible aspects to organisations but their one saving grace is that they can do teamwork. Teams produce better results more often than most individuals most of the time.
So, I am not sure what to think about working from home, or it’s banning. I am not a cynical person and I think most people are good most of the time. But there’s something about home working that doesn’t quite sit well with me.
For those who…
…are home-based permanently that’s a different matter. Full time home office-ers I have no problem with. There is no point in commuting to the London office if you’re a combine harvester sales guy in Auchtermuchty.
My suspicion is that for most people most of the time working from home is frankly just disengagement. It’s a symptom of something else. If the work is great and the people are great and things are set up so that team effort is required and rewarded, which after all is what organisations are for, then why work from home?
Whitman said that “During this critical turnaround period, HP needs all hands on deck.”
The implication is that if you’re working from home you’re not really working. You’re not as effective as you could be.
I just have a nagging feeling this is correct.
I think there’s a utopian ideal…
…that we can all just run around telecommuting (what a stupid word) and being super effective while multi-tasking from anywhere on earth. This is almost certainly nonsense. This assumes that there is no network effect in an organisation: that it is just a sum of its employee’s individual effort. An organisation has to be more than the sum of its parts. An organisation needs team working to deliver value because the non-value adding costs of simply being an organisation are massive.
And I am afraid that a good number of people, I’m saying more than 50%, will become almost totally unproductive very quickly without the organisation wrapped around them. They’re not bad people. They’re just people.
So, I think Marissa and Meg have got it right.
What do you think? Why don’t you let me know in the box below.