Small Business

4 Reasons Why Telecommuting Is Bad for Business

Stephanie Vozza, Entrepreneur
Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo
Getty Images

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer recently changed the company's policy on working from home – requiring that all employees must now report to an office every day. The move sparked protest from telecommuters who claim they're more productive at home, but not everyone disagrees with the decision.

"Marissa Mayer was brought in to fix Yahoo," says Nick Balletta, CEO of TalkPoint, a webcasting company based in New York. "If she does what her predecessors have done nothing will change. I applaud her leadership and believe she's doing the right thing."

Balletta believes employees are less productive when they work from home. "It's easy to get pulled into day-to-day home life with errands and the television," he says. "We've all been on conference calls where dogs are barking in the background. It used to be a novelty, but it's led to a sense of entitlement."

While Balletta admits that working from home is necessary under certain circumstances on occasion, he says that having employees present in the office provides small businesses with distinct advantages.

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Here are four reasons why he and others believe that telecommuting is a bad choice for business.

1. Less opportunity for collaboration.

Balletta says small companies thrive on innovation, and the best ideas often come from casual conversations that start over coffee or lunch.

"You can't replace the entrepreneurial results of face-to-face collaboration," he says. "As the owner of an IT company, I worry about what three guys in a garage somewhere might develop. I'm not worried about what three guys in three separate garages might do. There's no substitute for what can happen when you get people in a room together."

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2. It's difficult to understand the company's direction.

Execution of a new business strategy can only occur when employees collectively understand the direction as well as the work that needs to be done, says Cindy Lubitz, founder and managing director of inTalent Consulting, an Atlanta-based human resources consulting firm.

"Mayer was brought in to save an ailing company," says Lubitz. "From my experience with similarly sized organizations, I know it's difficult to get everyone on the same page when they're scattered -- a webinar or conference call can only get you so far. At this stage in Yahoo's trajectory, it's time to ensure everyone understands and is in close proximity to the new strategic direction."

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3. Your company culture is lost.

While Balletta says interruptions that can happen in an office setting may decrease worker productivity, the payback comes in the relationships that develop when there is a team working side by side.

"You can't have a virtual happy hour," says Balletta. "Part of the office environment is developing esprit de corp. That's what builds company culture and drives innovation."

4. Low producers can fly under the radar.

Balletta says Mayer's new policy will create forced attrition. "Those who don't really want to be there will weed themselves out," he says.

"Today, people not only have to work harder and smarter, they have to work together. Yahoo employees who are disgruntled and leave will be the best thing for the company. Those who embrace the change will step up and rise to the top."

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