Yesterday I came across an article on the Atlantic titled “When Working From Home Doesn’t Work”. As a full-time remote worker, I felt a need to discuss my opinions on this.
The article was prompted by a change at IBM telling employees to stop working from home and start working in the office. IBM isn’t the first company to do this, Yahoo (2013), Aetna (2016), and Best Buy (2013) were also noted in the article for moving away from work-from-home arrangements. It’s not hard to find companies that are reducing or eliminating the perk such as Honeywell (2016) and Reddit (2014).
The difference now, as stated in the article, is that IBM was a pioneer in work-from-home, and ran consulting services to help other corporations improve their “officeless efficiencies”. One would expect that IBM studied its remote and on-site employees and was able to show that on-site employees significantly outperformed remote workers. Although I was not able to find any published research from IBM on the topic.
There is a discussion of something called the “Allen Curve” in the article. A study showed that once people’s desks are moved more than 30 meters apart, they all but ceased regular communication. A follow-up study looked to see if modern information technology has been able to change this, but instead, it showed that the “Allen Curve” still holds true today.
In July, Bloomberg published an article titled “The Rise and Fall of Working From Home”, which follows the same story of the IBM change. This article brings up many interesting points, such as reducing the wage gap, cutting down on carbon emissions, and cutting down on real estate costs. The article also goes into some reasons why people do not support the arrangement.
I would like to explore this topic deeper in the next few posts, this could be the beginning of a series of articles on remote work and how you can be successful with it.