I’ve had experience on both sides of this question, and I can say definitively, I don’t know. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. In the public relations business telecommuting often doesn’t work for the very reasons Marissa Mayer, the new head of Yahoo, states.
Public relations is a very collaborative business. Have you ever done a brainstorming session over the phone? It doesn’t work because although people are connected by voice, there is a huge thing missing. You’re not in a room together throwing spit wads or acting up or using body language. We had a woman working for us who had a baby and then moved to San Diego. We didn’t want her to leave, so we hired her on a telecommuting basis. She was the exception to the rule. She worked hard, hired a babysitter, showed great results and came into the office for a few days each month when she met with clients as well as her teams. She was great, but she was an exception.
When most people work from home, though they’re connected by all sorts of technology, they fail to generate new ideas because no one is there to challenge them. It’s a boon to mothers, but I don’t know if these mothers are free from their children enough to get much done.
Working at it makes it work. Team and client meetings generate collaboration essential to our business. Perhaps Mayer will make it work after she has more time in the job.