New technology has increasingly allowed workforces to become more distributed and virtual. Many people whose positions used to require them to be tethered to a physical office now telecommute, or work from home. This seems to be a good thing, allowing people to work who might normally not have been able to, and to allow others to work on a more flexible schedule, but it might not always be the best idea.
Structuring your operations and workforce is a critical decision for any business. And when you add the people-factor to the technological possibilities, those possibilities often become less possible. A mostly-remote workforce could be an example of this. Working remotely may have its benefits, but according to the Allen Curve, the physical distance between workers directly correlates to a reduction in communication. In fact, 50 meters marks the cut-off point for exchanges of regular types of technical information. Thus, depending on the size of your office, you might have people on-site who don’t communicate, so what might this say about your remote workers?
Recently, Melissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo, made the controversial decision to ask telecommuting employees to come back to the office. No doubt Mayer was thinking that this move would help increase communication and productivity, but that may not be the case. After all, who is to say that some of the most productive of workers are not remote? There is more to consider here than the Allen Curve, because ultimately, the people-factor adds too many variables to think in such simplistic terms; each business needs to consider its office and its needs individually. So, is the physical office dead? No, certainly not, but it may be a little less populated these days.
What is your company doing to strike the right balance of remote and in-office work?
PriSim Business War Games Inc. runs and designs customized business simulations that teach decision-makers about business, strategy, finance, and leadership.