I've recently quit a job that required a 2 hour+ commute (4-5 hour total). This commute was costing me a sizable portion of my monthly income. Luckily, the firm was very casual when it came to getting in late, their culture could be described as "so long as the work is done".
During a typical working day, most interaction with colleagues took the form of instant messaging, ticketing, or e-mail. Of course, I did converse face-to-face with my team frequently. The vast majority of the day was spent on solitary development. In fact, the only interaction I had with my manager was during a weekly catch-up meeting, or if something required cooperative development, or if an urgent fix was needed. If someone could not physically attend a meeting, they would usually attend via audio/video conference.
Luckily for me, the company/my manager didn't mind if I occasionally worked from home. I only worked from home if I had an urgent reason to do so (doctors appointment, etc...). I was hugely more productive at home, I maintained the communication in the same way as if I was in the office. In fact, if I had been allowed to work from home 3-4 days a week, my productivity would have, at the very least, tripled.
I understand that there's obviously some trust issues associated with working from home. The extent of which will vary from each company/manager. I can also understand why one would be required to "prove their worth" before being granted the privilege. Is the requirement to be physically at the office just tradition, or something more?