In the wake of Marissa Mayer’s decision to eliminate telecommuting at Yahoo, many people are arguing the benefits and drawbacks of allowing employees to work from home. Are they less productive? Are they less accountable? Does innovation, collaboration and workplace productivity suffer when employees aren’t physically in the office?
These are all valid questions, however when considering the impact in-person collaboration can have on productivity, perhaps enterprises should think about it more holistically. While limiting telecommuting can work for enhancing collaboration at headquarters or within individual offices, companies need to ask themselves what measures should global enterprises pursue to enhance real-time collaboration across the country and across the globe. Leveraging enterprise collaboration philosophies and technologies is essential because effective collaboration cannot always happen on its own.
Collaboration from Anywhere
Social business ideals and advancements in technology have certainly improved enterprises’ ability to work from across offices, regions, countries and continents. Now, collaboration technologies enable not just employee interaction over the phone but through other communication methods as well. Employees can manage availability and activity through telepresence; they can use group chats to hold virtual meetings; they can share documents and computer screens to collaborate on projects. All this has given companies the ability to amplify collaboration and more unified business processes, using technology for internal communication, knowledge and idea sharing, and in the process, eliminating workplace silos.
Companies have to exploit the same technologies that have transformed consumer behavior in order to compete successfully. This is where Unified Communications and Collaborations (UCC) technologies play a major role by enabling the infrastructure to organize and unify intra-enterprise communications in a way not possible or practical before. UCC technology is essential to business’ efforts to organize people and processes and information around eliminating fragmented, uncoordinated efforts across various functional departments and offices.
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Working From Home isn’t Necessarily For Yahoos
Yes, in-person collaboration can foster more creativity and productivity than telecommuting, but that’s not to say work from home programs can’t be successful with the right technologies and processes. Take the customer service industry for instance. As more contact centers move from offshore locations back to the U.S., many companies are taking advantage of not only bringing agents back to the U.S. but back to their own homes. With the use of collaboration technologies, work-at-home agents can engage and chat with sales representatives, engage product and subject matter content and experts through collaboration software and participate on team calls via video. This type of collaboration improves resolution time and customer satisfaction without necessarily tethering the agent to a desk. This is imperceptible to the customer and collaboration is not compromised but provides access to a larger skill and talent pool.
The bottom line is that productivity through collaboration is not necessarily dependent on physical proximity. However, companies have to leverage collaboration technology in order to effectively leverage their workforce regardless of whether they are in another cube or another continent.