Making Telework Work

by Doug Allen

Jeff Robbins, founder and CEO of Lullabot, defends Marissa Meyer’s ban on telecommuting. His rule of thumb is that a “conventional company with several remote employees is a company with several alienated employees”:

My feeling is that most conventional co-located companies simply don’t know how to manage, and more importantly, how to include their remote workforce. … This discussion isn’t all about productivity. It’s also about culture, relationships (both romantic and platonic), understanding office politics, in-jokes, birthday parties, and general inclusion. Without these things, a company’s work-at-home staff won’t feel like they’re part of the team. … Feeling alienated sucks. These employees can become myopic, focusing only on the work that comes to them via email and nothing else.

He explains how they maintain the office camaraderie despite their “distributed” workforce:

[I]t’s built into our DNA to avoid remote worker alienation. We bend over backwards to make our team feel connected and involved in the company. Being a good proactive communicator is a requirement for any job at Lullabot. And our company’s infrastructure is built around facilitating many different types of communication. We can easily and quickly see who’s working at any given moment. We can easily get quick answers from anyone on the team whether they’re online or off. We can post questions company-wide for discussion. We spend a lot of time on conference calls, but people are often multitasking and we rarely feel like a meeting was unproductive.

Previous Dish on working from home here, here and here.