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ANSWERED on Wed 31 May 2017 - 1:26 am UTC by JD Umiat

Question: Is work from home good, bad, or indifferent for knowledge workers?

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scavenger 

Customer

 30 May 2017 16:57 UTCTue 30 May 2017 - 4:57 pm UTC 

I employ IT engineers and project managers. Recently, more and more of them are wanting work from home options.

I'm nervous about what this may do to team cohesion and productivity.

What research exists on the pros and cons of allowing employees to work from home? Is it generally/overall a positive, or a negative? Is limiting the number of days per week valuable? Or does it make a difference if it's 1 day or 5 days?

 

JD Umiat 

Answer

 31 May 2017 01:26 UTCWed 31 May 2017 - 1:26 am UTC 

Hi, Scavenger!


 Here are some articles which include recent research on the pros and cons of working remotely with some specificity toward knowledge workers and IT engineers.
 
 

Getting Virtual Teams Right - Harvard Business Review
https://hbr.org/2014/12/getting-virtual-teams-right

When my firm, Ferrazzi Greenlight, recently surveyed 1,700 knowledge workers, 79% reported working always or frequently in dispersed teams. Armed with laptops, Wi-Fi, and mobile phones, most professionals can do their jobs from anywhere.

The appeal of forming virtual teams is clear. Employees can manage their work and personal lives more flexibly, and they have the opportunity to interact with colleagues around the world. Companies can use the best and lowest-cost global talent and significantly reduce their real estate costs.

But virtual teams are hard to get right. In their seminal 2001 study of 70 such groups, professors Vijay Govindarajan and Anil Gupta found that 82% fell short of their goals and 33% rated themselves as largely unsuccessful. A 2005 Deloitte study of IT projects outsourced to virtual work groups found that 66% failed to satisfy the clients’ requirements. And in our research, we’ve discovered that most people consider virtual communication less productive than face-to-face interaction, and nearly half admit to feeling confused and overwhelmed by collaboration technology.

There is good news, however. A 2009 study of 80 global software teams by authors from BCG and WHU-Otto Beisheim School of Management indicates that well-managed dispersed teams can actually outperform those that share office space. Similarly, an Aon Consulting report noted that using virtual teams can improve employee productivity; some organizations have seen gains of up to 43%.

Read further on tips to making virtual teams more effective....................

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Are remote workers more productive? We’ve checked all the research so you don’t have to
http://blog.hubstaff.com/remote-workers-more-productive/


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The following article is quite up-front about the pros and cons of a remote workforce:

The Benefits of a Remote Workforce and Virtual Collaboration
http://www.aperianglobal.com/benefits-remote-workforce-virtual-collaboration/


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Not specific to knowledge workers and a survey across several countries:


Global survey of 24,000+ workers unearths the ‘need’ for flexibility in the workplace in order for businesses to thrive
HIGHLIGHTS
http://www.polycom.com/company/news/press-releases/2017/20170321.html

    62% of the global working population take advantage of flexible working practices
    98% of respondent’s state that anywhere working has a positive impact on productivity and a whopping 62% of those surveyed ‘want’ access to collaboration technology which can enable them connect to their colleagues
    92% surveyed believe that video collaboration technology helps improve relationships and fosters better teamwork

Productivity and teamwork are both significantly improved when employees can choose where they work, a global survey of anywhere working trends has found. The survey** commissioned by Polycom, Inc. a global leader in helping organisations achieve new levels of teamwork, efficiency and productivity by unleashing the power of human collaboration.

"We predicted that 2016 would be the ‘year of video’, and it’s satisfying to know that people are really seeing the benefits of working this way," says Jim Kruger, CMO of Polycom, "The survey results also tell us that businesses need to offer video collaboration tools to enable the human contact that people crave.  Organisations that are able to offer flexible working practices and the right collaboration tools will be the winners in recruiting and retaining top talent."

The survey has revealed the main benefits and challenges for employers and employees when it comes to adopting a flexible working culture. While results vary by country, there are three key trends that remain constant across the board. The vast majority of respondents (98%) agree that an anywhere working approach boosts productivity, as people can choose to work where they are most efficient. 92% of respondents also agree that video collaboration technology improves teamwork. Meeting colleagues via video helps keep the human interaction element that can sometimes lack when working remotely, enabling employees to develop better relationships. The survey also reveals that 62% of the global working population is working flexibly - more than ever before. Digital transformation is partly responsible, as it drives organisations to explore new ways of working at a faster pace. Firms are racing to innovate, develop a better working culture, and retain the best talent to remain competitive.

"There is a stigma that remote workers are disconnected from the rest of the team, yet this study proves that they are more sociable and proactively reach out to develop strong relationships. The new technology tools that enable communication and collaboration are actually motivating workers to pick up the phone, seek face time and create lasting bonds. This is the upside of remote work we rarely talk about," Jeanne Meister, Partner, Future Workplace.

66% of millennials are worried that they aren’t perceived as hard-working when they are not in the office. This is a big concern globally, shared by 62% of all respondents. For organisations to keep up with the fast-pace of digital transformation, there needs to be a shift in attitude, and a new approach to how people work and collaborate. By measuring performance based on outputs, and not hours worked, employees are reassured that management knows presenteeism does not equal good work ethic. Underlying this shift in work culture is technology. The right collaboration technology needs to be in place to enable teams to collaborate, and employees to have the same access to resources as if they were in the office.


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Some interesting points made here:

Five Trends that Are Dramatically Changing Work and the Workplace - Knoll Workplace Research
https://www.knoll.com/media/18/144/WP_FiveTrends.pdf



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Specific to IT engineers - pros and cons highlighed below!


Why even engineers think working from home is a bad idea
https://qz.com/319905/why-even-engineers-think-working-from-home-is-a-bad-idea/

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For programmers, the ultimate office perk is avoiding the office entirely
https://qz.com/950973/remote-work-for-programmers-the-ultimate-office-perk-is-avoiding-the-office-entirely/

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Practical Work-From-Home Policies That Actually Work
The dust is beginning to settle around Marissa Mayer’s infamous Yahoo lockdown. Now it’s time to begin putting together a comprehensive strategy that works for your company.
https://www.fastcompany.com/3006964/practical-work-home-policies-actually-work

How do you optimize motivation AND productivity?

There are two important thoughts here: First, individuals can be more productive working at home, but teams can’t. Teams are always LESS productive when people are not together. Second, productivity declines, more often than not, because management is unclear on expectations and measures - it’s not just that people at home are slacking off.

If you want your work-from-home policy to work, get very clear about both individual and team goals. Figure out what things the team must be together to work on, and what things will be optimized by individuals working from home. Establish clear desired outcomes, schedules, and priorities both for the individuals and the team.


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JD

 

scavenger 

Customer

 31 May 2017 04:03 UTCWed 31 May 2017 - 4:03 am UTC 

above and beyond, thank you!

 

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