In this Venture Beat column, Brian De Haaf, the founder of AHA!, argues that remote work can actually be more productive than in-office work. His argument hinges on the following points:
1. Larger pool of talent: Remote work enables employers to hire folks from a broader geographic area, not just those who can commute to a given locale. As such, employers have access to a larger, and more specialized group of individuals.
2. Flexibility: It is assumed that most jobs come with some amount of independent work. Given that there is not a defined office, employees can complete this work on their own schedule.
3. Commute-time: By eliminating commute time, De Haaf argues that employees have more time to spend with their family or dedicate to their work.
4. Personal Communication: Most interestingly, De Haaf makes the point that employee communication is more personal and intentional via remote arrangements. He says that less communication breeds more intentional and personal communication.
On the whole, I largely agree with De Haaf's points; however, I think his note on personal communication is contentious. It is hard to discount the bonding that comes with in-person interaction. Going forward, it will be interesting to see how remote employers attempt to compensate for spontaneous interactions that take place in an office.
It seems to have worked — the design is a standard feature in 70% of offices today. But those who work in them know the truth — the office is no guarantee of productivity. On any given day, employees have to fight through long commutes, noise, a lack of privacy, and constant interruptions. It is amazing that anyone gets anything done.