Marissa Mayer might be under scrutiny by many of her employees due to her recent decision of ending ‘work from home’ culture in Yahoo, Inc. Though I am not aware of those extreme circumstances under which she needed to take this drastic step, I can say this for sure….’work for home’ culture is not for every organization. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for workplace mobility, when required. But some of the organizations are just not made to support ‘work from home’ culture. Thus, in this blog I will provide you few reasons for NOT having ‘work from home’ policy in your organization.
Depends on your business needs: Not every organization can afford to have the popular culture of telecommuting. Sometimes the business need, itself, won’t allow you to implement this culture in your company. Let’s say, you own an Apple Store. Are you going to be able to make your “Genius” employees work from home? Though these technicians can resolve people’s technical issues over the network, it is a strategic disadvantage for them to do so. Apple Store is widely known for its best customer support. And hence, the business need requires their employees to have some face time with their customers and develop that strong customer relationship to promote their brand.
It’s not for every company: Some people just can’t communicate well over the messenger, email or phone. There can be various reasons for this situation including lack of training, stagnant workforce, availability of appropriate tools, etc. Nonetheless, if your current workforce and your current company culture can’t support the initiative of working from home, then it might not be for your company. If some of your employees are not self-starters, and if they need someone to hold them accountable, and can’t be motivated themselves at home, then they need to work in the office. OR If you have some of those employees in your team for whom ‘work from home’ is the other name for a ‘vacation’, then this is definitely not for your company.
You lose the human touch: While communicating over a phone or a video conference provides your team the flexibility to join the meeting from anywhere, it comes with the dual edge sword. With the virtual nature of the communication for a ‘work from home’ team, it becomes challenging to schedule a meeting, since your team member have to wait for other people to come back to their IM client so that they can communicate. Also, written communication over e-mail or the verbal communication over the phone can create many inter-personal conflicts due to misunderstanding, which taking long time to resolve them. With written communication being so inefficient and passive, it might not be a good idea to go with the ‘work from home’ culture, if your employees are not ready for it yet.
Can create security concerns: I know, we have the latest technology today with the VPN connection and the secured channel communication. But as the technology advances and becomes complex, it becomes very difficult to address these security concerns remotely. No matter how strong is your office network, if your employees are working from home, your company can be exposed to various security loopholes. If you don’t have adequate IT support to address these security concerns for the people who work at home, then you might want to wait before implementing a ‘work from home’ policy in your company. Internet security is not the only problem. When your employees work from home they are exposed to various other security issues like their laptop getting stolen, having their password getting hacked due to lose WiFi network key, etc. Obviously, these issues will be less frequent if all of your employees work in the office, instead of their less secured home environment.
So, what do you think about my argument? Do you know any other situations in which you should not allow your employees to work from home?
Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi
March 5, 2013 at 9:13 PM
This is a great topic to discuss. I think you make some valid points, but at the same time I think that most could easily be overcome except for the physical presence with the customer. There is nothing that substitutes physical presence with the customer.
If you allow your employees to work from home, you need to have special, above average, employees. They need to be driven, have integrity and work ethic, and be accountable for what they do. This type of employee is special and not all employees fall into this group.
Even though not all employees fall into this group, there are many companies that could take more advantage of the work at home employee. Companies could save a lot of money if they were to allow people to work from home more often.
Thank you for bringing up this topic.
March 6, 2013 at 12:19 PM
@Brandon: Yeah! Most of these issues can easily be resolved. But not many people know how. I have worked/consulted various companies, where they just implement work-from-home policies because its cool. But that’s not the way to go. Organization needs to provide extensive training to their line managers to implement these principles carefully.
And with the work like software development, where almost all the projects go over the budget due to the nature of work, and poor cost estimation; no one wants to add another complexity.
Anyways, thanks for providing your feedback. And yeah! Do watch out for my next blog, I will provide few tips on how you can prepare your line managers to promote work-from-home culture.
Keep sharing. Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi