According to an article in The Mercury News, HP is cutting back on the practice of telecommuting among IT professionals.
I've worked both sides of this issue but have to give the nod to HP on this one, especially in these areas:
- IT's interaction with business units
- Team building
- Training of younger staff
Don't get me wrong; there are many IT related tasks that can be performed offsite. I frequently work out of my home office myself.
My feelings on this are influenced by having been part of the management of a consulting company with staff spread throughout the U.S. and by project management responsibilities that involved staff working out of multiple geographic locations.
I'd be the first to say that there are many IT related activities that can be telecommuted, especially those involving mature and disciplined workers who need extended periods of concentration on highly technical design, coding, or testing work.
Examples of interactions where I would prefer to see frequent face to face opportunities include:
- CIO meetings with IT department heads.
- IT staff meeting with business unit staff to discuss business requirements.
- Staff reviews.
- Brainstorming sessions (design, feedback, prototype review, etc.)
- Project selection and prioritizing.
The above are just a few examples. I understand that there is a difference between "regularly having face to face meetings" and "not telecommuting." I also understand that some organizations are so large that multiple sites are required for staff (the Mercury article about HP mentions 25 IT department locations).
But the importance of body language being what it is, I have to think positively of both horizontal and vertical communication within the hierarchy being best served by co-located staff. I also think that some staff work best when sited within the structured environment of an office.
What do you think about this? Please let me know my emailing me or by leaving a comment below!