Why working from home doesn’t work

Face to face interaction is just one of the benefits of having your staff in the office during office hours.
Mum on the the phone with baby on lap

BRITISH Vogue editor-in-chief Alexandra Shulman sparked a furious debate — and the inevitable Devil Wears Prada comparisons — on the weekend when she wrote a piece explaining why she doesn’t let her staff work from home.

I agree with Alex’s predilection for staff being on hand during office hours. A full and present team creates a culture and a dynamic that is all important to a business.

I love the camaraderie of an office, and the on the spot conversations that were initiated each day.

The water cooler chats would often inform, or change a direction we were taking when I was editing Vogue.

I had a small period when I freelanced after the birth of my twins and I felt awfully out of the loop, even with the email at my fingertips.

No one has time to write send you a stream of consciousness email, but you can certainly cover off a lot by walking over to someone’s office desk and chatting for 10 minutes over a coffee.

I do, however, believe in flexibility about working from home on a case by case basis.

As Alex noted, it’s difficult to conduct phone interviews or write a 2000 word article if you work in a busy and noisy open plan office.

Of course, on the occasions when one of my staff had a sick child, I was happy to let them work from home via email and phone.

But the everyday communication that occurs organically between team members is vital, as great ideas will often spin off each other.

Face-to-face time cannot be undervalued, and I’m not convinced Skype is quite the same thing.

Robust, back and forth debates amongst the whole team will most usually lead to considered outcomes, and they are often spontaneous.

And hey, I like to see what people are wearing!

Your say: Do you work from home? Does it work for you? Email us on [email protected]

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