I’ve heard these excuses time and time again against remote working or working from home:

  • “Remote teams don’t work.”
  • “Working from home leads to decreases in quality.”
  • “I think that collaboration is easier when done face to face.”
  • “I don’t know what people are doing if they aren’t here.”
  • “People just goof off if they work from home.”

David Heinemier Hansson, parter at 37Signals, Just posted an article on the number of different places that people have worked from in their time with the company. Github are also known to have an extremely geo-distributed team. There are others who manage very well with distributed teams, working remotely. I think it’s no coincidence that the common thread amongst these successful geo-distributed companies are that their leaders believe it can work.

I’ve said many times that culture is not imposed, it is made up of all of the individuals of a company; their beliefs and standards. So it is through long observation that I have come to the following rule of thumb:

If remote working doesn’t work at your company, it’s your fault.

The corollary to this rule of thumb is:

The management and leadership elements in a company will reflect their own personal biases and previous failures at remote working onto the notion of remote working; they may also fear the power of a truly self-organizing, self-directed team on their own relevance, and will construct the necessary social cues or fear based mechanisms within the company to ensure its failure or otherwise.