Is Traditional Office Space Dysfunctional? – Telework Week

    All week the DorobekINSIDER has be talking about telework. Last month Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer outlawed telework at her company. The reaction to the news was swift on both sides. With some opponents calling the decision an attack on working mothers. On Monday Professor Sullivan told Chris that innovation and telework don't mix. But Jack Nilles says offices are the real problem. He says they are distraction zones and dysfunctional spaces. Jack Nilles is the CEO of Jala International. Jala International helps organizations optimize telework. He told Chris Dorobek that Mayer's decision to remove telework is out of character for most high tech companies. Why Would Yahoo Outlaw Telework? "You have to understand that this is a company that has allegedly been in serious trouble. A new CEO comes in and does what all new CEO's do, she wants to shake up the troops. She says, 'i'm in command now, so let's all come in together.' One of the easiest things you can do as a new CEO is call-in all your teleworks," said Nilles. Professor Sullivan says telework and innovation don't mix, do you agree? "It is not a binary comparison. The fact is most telecommuters are part timers. They spend half the time in a week working at home and the other half in the office. So the idea that you are either telecommuting all the time or at work full-time just isn't the case," said Nilles. Office Interruptions "We've had projects in which new programs got started only because employees are telecommuting. They couldn't get it done in the office with all the interruptions. Traditional office space is a dysfunctional place to be. The interruptions factor is a lot greater than the loss of serendipitous interactions," said Nilles. Have to manage telework "The Yahoo telework program wasn't well managed. The key to making it happen is to truly manage by results not process. You need to set up ahead of time what the telecommuters work should look like, when it is due, accountability measures, quality considerations and stick to it," said Nilles. Telework is battle tested "We've been testing this for 40 years and creativity has never been a problem. In fact managers of telecommuters think they are more creative than the people in the office all the time. So it is a red herring to say creativity goes doen the tubes if people aren't in the office," said Nilles.

You can find all our telework week stories by searching key word: Telework Week. 

  • John Sullivan: Impossible to telework and innovate? One Professor says yes. Find out why. 
  • Suzanne McGee: Is removing telework a morale crushing mistake?
  • Jennifer Glass: It's about the work, not the office.
  • Tom Fox: PTO Does Telework Right, Can Your Agency Copy It?

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