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collaboration among geographically distributed teams and effect of working from home

Posted on 2014-12-31
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2015-01-04

I am facing a major challenge. My team is based in city which requires almost 2 hours of commute daily on one side. I am proposing working from home for my team members if they deliver on expectation and deliver or beat the sprint velocity all the time.

My senior management is objecting to it for the following reasons

1. Severe impact on collaboration
2. Severe impact on innovation
3. Severe impact on productivity and misuse of the freedom

I don't quite agree to this and want to quote that open source software is built using distributed teams with no authority and is still able to innovate significantly.

What are your thoughts on this ? I don't want my team to burn out of commute and I would rather make them more productive by working from for at least 2 or 3 days in the week

please share all your experiences

happy new yea
Question by:anshuma
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LVL 84

Assisted Solution

ozo earned 1336 total points
ID: 40526143
I know teams that work well well despite 20 hour commutes for meetings.
They have developer conferences once or twice a year,
and other personal meetings as needed, but most of the collaboration is done
in weekly conference calls within each team (sometimes with a virtual white board)
frequent email as needed, and occasional other electronic communication with screen or video sharing as needed.

Author Comment

ID: 40526151
Hello Ozo what does this line mean , can you be more explicit

"I know teams that work well well despite 20 hour commutes for meetings."

Are you suggesting that asking my team to commute for 4 hours every day is also ok (that adds to 20 hours per week)  

Based on your other lines I believe you think working remotely and collaborating on internet is more than enough for getting good quality work done
LVL 84

Assisted Solution

ozo earned 1336 total points
ID: 40526167
When it can take 20 hours to get to a meeting, daily meetings are physically impossible, (except during the week or so when all are gathered for a conference, but those can be 40 or more weeks apart)
Despite lack of weekly physical meetings, collaboration, innovation, and productivity show no sign of being impacted.
Management would probably object to more frequent physical meetings for exactly the reasons yours object to lack of common venue.
On the other hand, management does encourage (but not require) people to resettle in central locations.

But your mileage may vary depending on the nature of the project and the people involved.

Expert Comment

by:Tom Chadaravicius
ID: 40526241
I have eagerly proposed and agreed to lesser reimbursement to work for an East Coast-based company out of my Midwest location. My manager resides and works out of a Rockie Mountain state.
I rarely count hours and I spend the would-be commute time on developing code.
The only possible loser in this scenario is a manager ambition which thinks sports rather than coding.

Accepted Solution

Tony Pitt earned 664 total points
ID: 40526470
You will lose the casual day-to-day interaction, the value of which is immeasurable, if people are working remotely.  Technology can readily replace the formal sharing - conference calls, including shared slides, email, social media, etc.

I managed a team for several years that was located in an office that was a 4 hour drive from my home.  I spent a couple of days there every two to three weeks, and ran a one hour weekly conference call.  It worked fine, but it was significant that the team in question had worked closely together before that for a number of years, with only a small number of newcomers.

I would encourage individuals to set aside a room at home, if they can, or otherwise an area, that is largely for work, not leisure.  That makes it easier to avoid distractions.  It also makes it easier to switch from home to work at the beginning of the day, and back at the end.  (One of the biggest dangers to the individual is that they never switch off from work at the end of the day!)

A lot depends on whether management trust the individuals.  At the start in may be necessary to specify short-term objectives, in order to show that the work is still getting done - that will earn the trust of the senior managers.  Maybe it could be a gradual introduction - one day a week to start with, or something like that.

If you really need to - and I would consider this a last resort - look at a tracking tool such as Track4Win to collect information as to what is being done on the computer.  I used this to monitor my teenage son's homework, for example, but it's designed more for a work environment.  It'll show you, centrally, how much time was spent in each application and what URLs were visited.  Reports from that would surely persuade senior management that freedom was not being abused.  However, you would need to get the individuals' buy-in to impose such detailed monitoring ...

While I resisted home working for many years, I eventually gave in.  Once I got used to it, it was great.  The benefit is certainly worth the effort of getting there!

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