Jay Greene has an interesting article on Cnet.com today: “Does telecommuting really reduce employee performance? Academic research suggests that working more than one day a week away from the office, for jobs that require a lot of collaboration with colleagues, can cut into performance.”
As you can tell from the title, it appears to support Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s decision to terminate telecommuting. A couple of points, though. Mayer’s decision was justified on the grounds that most telecommuters were “goofing off,” not, for example, logging on to VPN. And second, if you read down through the article, you find that what the research really says is that telecommuting requires an appropriate organizational climate.
In particular, successful telecommuting requires a high degree of Einheit — mutual trust. For one thing, all members of the organization must be rewarded, and believe that they will be rewarded, on their contributions to achieving the organization’s goals and objectives, not on their ability to suck up to the boss at work. Want to make a bet on the situation at Yahoo?
As the article concludes:
In the end, companies that do well with remote workers are the ones that are most willing to take the chance that it will work and support employees when they are toiling away at home.
“There’s no question that technology makes it possible,” Christensen said. “But the culture has to support it.”
My guess is that Boyd’s “blitzkrieg climate” (Fingerspitzengefühl, etc.) will work nicely. As anyone who has ever tried to implement lean/maneuver warfare knows, however, it requires strong leadership.
On the other hand, if you know what you’re doing and get the climate going, the vast majority of people will choose to work from where they can best accomplish their missions.