Working from Home

Christina at Inc. writes about three fallacies about working from home, and points to a soon-to-be-released book by the founders of 37signals on the benefits of remote working.

The authors’ viewpoints are certainly biased–37signals’ products are well-suited for remote workers who need to work on projects with others and stay in close touch with teammates. Even so, they clearly know what they’re talking about and practice what they preach. The company’s 36 employees are scattered around the world and only come together for companywide gatherings a few times a year. Fried and Hansson also are proponents of a 40-hour work week and don’t care how employees distribute their hours on the clock or calendar.

The duo identifies the many benefits of such flexibility, such as the potential hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars a person can save by not having to commute. But what it really boils down to is that if done right remote workers have an opportunity to determine the quality of their own lives. Want to travel the world? Go for it–most people can work anywhere there’s an Internet connection.

Remote work isn’t without its drawbacks, such as the tendency for people to work too much from home, while at the same time getting less exercise than if they had to trudge into an office.

The book is chock full of tips for employees on how to succeed as a remote worker as well as surprising advice for managers about how to hire and retain the best talent.

The fallacies she / they mention are:
– that remote work hinders communication.
– that other employees will be jealous.
– that remote workers will slack off.

Clearly there will be situations where employees don’t do all they can when they are working from home, but at the root this comes down to hiring the right people in the first place. Strategies for addressing each potential problem are noted in Christina’s article.

I started studying remote work / telework in the mid-1990s and the issues then are the same ones mentioned now. Have we learnt nothing in the past 20 years?

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