An article in today’s Independent newspaper (p27) describes Yahoo’s decision to tell all home workers to return to their HQ by this summer because, according to Yahoo, “to become the absolute best place to work ,communication and collaboration will be important so we need to be working side by side. That is why it is critical that we are all present in our offices…” Richard Branson is quoted as saying their decision is “perplexing” and a”backward step”.
By contrast the CIPD’s head of public policy states “Evidence shows that where people are able to benefit from flexible working they are more likely to be engaged and go the extra mile”.
Having freedom and autonomy can fuel motivation, as can being connected with your business’s purpose and those around you. Technology offers a wide range of ways to stay connected when you’re working remotely (phones, texts, blogs, conference calls, Skype, instant messaging…) but you still need to have the will to use them to stay connected. If you’re working away from your colleagues, then staying in contact with them to stay connected and motivated is as worthy a reason as staying connected simply to transact business or pass information to one another.
If you do work from home, or if you work in an office and have colleagues who work in other offices or at home, then you might need to invest some time, effort and energy building and keeping connectedness and making sure that you’re avoiding the Yahoo scenario where, according to the Independent there was “mounting concern that workers were ‘hiding’ from bosses who had lost track of who was supposed to be where and doing what”. Sounds like connectedness and trust has broken down. And for us, the responsibility to stay connected rests with all parties and not one or another. It should be part of everyone’s job roles. And not just to avoid the negative scenario but so that performance can be maximised by sharing knowledge, ideas, thoughts and feelings. If you’re busy, as many people are, it can be easy to let this communication aspect of your role continually slip to the bottom of the pile. But you do so at a risk to yourself and your colleagues, especially if they’re busy too. It’s all the more reason to stay connected rather than less.