For my working group at my present employer (a start-up) we are discussing about the possibility of granting the right to work exclusively from home, if we wish to.

Our work performance is only to process information in some way or the other, some are programmers, other are data analysts or technical writers.

How would the work flow be influenced?

I see that people won't have to spend time commuting, so that makes in some extreme cases, +3h each day for some employees. It's clear that they won't dedicate 3h extra if they telecommute, but that means less costs for them and less stress. Or, has face to face some essential property that we can't ignore?

  • @Chad: you are right on this one, I'd improve the question. – Quora Feans Mar 26 '14 at 21:13
  • Thank you now the question is much better suited for here. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Mar 26 '14 at 21:23
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    Are you sure it only deals with information? The three roles you mentioned are still extremely human tasks in the current age: programmers, data analysts, and technical writers. – Nicole Mar 26 '14 at 21:23
  • Studies have shown that telecommuters are more productive than their in-office counterparts (individually). Studies have also shown that team/group productivity suffers from telecommuting, presumably because of the difficulty of collaboration between people that aren't in the same place. Personally, I'm a big fan of telecommute and consider it a major perk, but the data does say there are good reasons not to rely on it, even for IT workers like myself. – HopelessN00b Mar 26 '14 at 21:57
  • Nothing beats face-to-face communication! specially in the IT field. – Long Mar 27 '14 at 14:53

Becasue there is no substitute for face to face interaction. That is why some companies who used to allow telecommuting have taken it away. It may be more efficient for the individual but not for the group. More work gets done in those face-to-face casual meetings in the hall than you may realize.

And potential clients and investors want to meet with you at a professional office space. Why do you think senior managers need much nicer offices than junior people. The people they meet with would not take them seriously without it.

  • handful of my friends work 100% from home (programmers and testers), they only "go out" once in several months to meet face to face. Their companies appear to be going well and I haven't heard them complaining, nor expressing desire to get back to working in the office, what are they doing wrong? – gnat Mar 26 '14 at 21:29
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    @gnat, in a successful company there are also nonprogrammers including senior managers. The question is why have an office at all not is it a good thing to work remotely. – HLGEM Mar 26 '14 at 22:00

I think the problem is this notion of "only working with information" is what skews the perspective. Most jobs don't operate in this type of void. Interpersonal communication is still important and the in person aspects are taken for granted.

Here are some examples:

  1. Training - most competent and educated people should be able to just read the manual, but for new and complex tasks or things that are not always cut and dry, working directly with an instructor is often necessary. In person, a good teach can tell when people are confused even though they don't ask direct questions.
  2. Meetings involving design and planning - for some people, there is no substitute for the white board. They're getting better, but most places don't have the technology in place to do this remotely. There is just something lost in the electronic translation. Maybe the next generation will be better at this?
  3. Being treated as a person and not a function. You may just process information, but when someone questions your work, asks you to do something or you ask someone else to do something, you want to be treated as a person. Electronic communications come across as terse and impersonal. It's easy to say no to a void. "That's not my job." It's too easy to be rude. I want people to know they are dealing with Jeff O. We have history, things in common, feelings that I want to be taken into consideration before someone just says no to me.

Having an office makes face to face easier. I don't think it is a requirement. Offices are strategically placed to be near clients and talent pools for a reason. Workers can telecommute for the most part, so I don't think is should be an all or nothing proposition. I work from home, but prefer to be closer to the corporate office. That would be the best of both worlds.


I think it all depends on the needs of the clients as well as the needs of the company. Some clients like to visit the office to meet the team working for them and kinda get the idea on how things are handled day by day (Programming methodoly for example).

There are a lot of companies here in México that are allowing remote workers with excellent results rathen then tying them on them to the office chairs. They do have to come in to the office once a month at least to meet with everyone and see how everything is doing.

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