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Is Traditional Office Space Dysfunctional? – Telework Week

All week the DorobekINSIDER has be talking about telework. Last month Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer outlawed telework at her company. The reaction to the news was swift on both sides. With some opponents calling the decision an attack on working mothers.

On Monday Professor Sullivan told Chris that innovation and telework don’t mix. But Jack Nilles says offices are the real problem. He says they are distraction zones and dysfunctional spaces.

Jack Nilles is the CEO of Jala International. Jala International helps organizations optimize telework. He told Chris Dorobek that Mayer’s decision to remove telework is out of character for most high tech companies.

Why Would Yahoo Outlaw Telework?

“You have to understand that this is a company that has allegedly been in serious trouble. A new CEO comes in and does what all new CEO’s do, she wants to shake up the troops. She says, ‘i’m in command now, so let’s all come in together.’ One of the easiest things you can do as a new CEO is call-in all your teleworks,” said Nilles.

Professor Sullivan says telework and innovation don’t mix, do you agree?

“It is not a binary comparison. The fact is most telecommuters are part timers. They spend half the time in a week working at home and the other half in the office. So the idea that you are either telecommuting all the time or at work full-time just isn’t the case,” said Nilles.

Office Interruptions

“We’ve had projects in which new programs got started only because employees are telecommuting. They couldn’t get it done in the office with all the interruptions. Traditional office space is a dysfunctional place to be. The interruptions factor is a lot greater than the loss of serendipitous interactions,” said Nilles.

Have to manage telework

“The Yahoo telework program wasn’t well managed. The key to making it happen is to truly manage by results not process. You need to set up ahead of time what the telecommuters work should look like, when it is due, accountability measures, quality considerations and stick to it,” said Nilles.

Telework is battle tested

“We’ve been testing this for 40 years and creativity has never been a problem. In fact managers of telecommuters think they are more creative than the people in the office all the time. So it is a red herring to say creativity goes doen the tubes if people aren’t in the office,” said Nilles.

You can find all our telework week stories by searching key word: Telework Week.

  • John Sullivan: Impossible to telework and innovate? One Professor says yes. Find out why.
  • Suzanne McGee: Is removing telework a morale crushing mistake?
  • Jennifer Glass: It’s about the work, not the office.
  • Tom Fox: PTO Does Telework Right, Can Your Agency Copy It?

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4 Comments

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Profile Photo Terrence Hill

In the current budget climate, we need to be smart about how we use our real estate, technology, and people. Office sharing makes sense in offices where up to 50% of the offices are empty. Same goes for parking spaces, computer, phones, and other overhead costs. We need to become more efficient in how we operate. Telework helps us because it gives organizations more flexibility in using available space, maximizing personally-owned mobile devices, and squeezing productivity out of each and every individual.

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Profile Photo Henry Brown

Agree with @Mr. Hill that we need to be smart as we are implementing teleworking

There are going to be people who do NOT feel comfortable teleworking at all, be it a generational issue or…, this should not be a problem IF they don’t impose their views/opinions on others.

Alot of the conversation is about how teleworking will save the organization money.. Would offer that for the typical organization, where only a certain percentage of the people telework a certain amount of time, and NOT full time, the organizational cost would be somewhat more difficult to quantify and in fact could even be higher.

And even with BYOD and a forward thinking policy on computers in general there is going to be additional costs for telecommunications (phone and internet access). BYOD can play an important role in cost management, but, IMO, I don’t believe that it is a simple black and white issue. IMO BYOD cannot be mandatory, and unless the teleworking employee is a full time teleworker other computing resources will have to be provided.

The total costs of teleworking MIGHT be lower but suspect it is kind of difficult to quantify: lower turnover costs (people could not be leaving because of the improved morale); improved productivity (where the employee is NOT terribly concerned about leaving exactly on time because of traffic issues etc.)

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Profile Photo Henry Brown

Another “cost” consideration needs to be taxes. If you live in a state that collects taxes and you work in a state that doesn’t one set of rules apply and if you live in a state that doesn’t collect taxes and your office is in a state that does there is another completly different set of rules.

And then when you telework!

No wonder the tax preparers have to go to school for close to 3 months and tend to charge an arm and leg!

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