From the Ask Tom mailbag:
I have a manager who wants to work from home. Have you ever seen any statistics about productivity of people working from home? Does it work? Or is something lost?
The first two words from the mouth of any good consultant are, “It depends.”
Working from home works for some people, for some it doesn’t. The problem with most studies, designed or cited, is they are biased to provide a great article in a magazine about alternative methods of productivity.
One of the most powerful time management tools has to do with getting uninterrupted time for work that requires focus. Working from home can provide that time.
But what is the work of a manager? A manager is that person in the organization held accountable for the output of the team. The most important work of a manager is assembling the team, assigning the roles (and tasks in those roles), coaching behaviors, setting the context for the team and measuring output. Management is a contact sport.
Steve Jobs, designing his building, placed all the restrooms in the front part of the building, so that at least for some portion of the day, people were forced to intermingle. He knew that collaboration was paramount, people being in the same space, talking with each other, out of their cubicles. Building cooperation, team culture and team spirit is difficult to do from home. This is not a rah-rah concept. Team spirit is not the goal, but team spirit is required to gain collaboration, innovation, adaptation, awareness.
Individual output of anything truly great, is a myth. The real work of a manager is coordinating all that individual direct output into organizational throughput. Management is a contact sport. Tough to do from home.