Is home-based work over-rated?

Submitted by acohill on Fri, 04/10/2015 - 08:52

There is a conversation over on LinkedIn about whether or not home-based tele-commuting is a real thing or not. I don't think the concept of working from home is "wrong," but I would agree that it is over-hyped.

We are not all going to work from home in the future. I first started using IP-based videoconferencing in 1994, and use it now on a daily basis. It is a tool, and nothing more than that. It is not some magic device that eliminates the need for face to face interaction.

Having said that, we have done more than two dozen county-wide and city-wide surveys in the past six or seven years involving thousands of respondents, and it is very clear that there is a floor of ten percent for full time home-based workers and businesses. If you add in respondents who are working part time from home, we see as many as 40% trying to work from home part time--while most of this is routine nights/weekends type stuff, on top of that 10% full time workers, there is another 5-10% who actually work one day or more from home. So there is a baseline of around 15-20% of workers who are trying to be productive from home.

We interviewed a Fortune 50 company recently who had a goal of giving 20% of their workforce the option of working full time from home as a quality of life issue (e.g. young children at home, an elderly relative who needs care, etc.). They wanted a symmetric, non-blocking 50 meg connection between every home-based worker and the corporate network. They wanted to be able to support a minimum of 4-way uncompressed HD videoconferencing for each home-based worker.

I've been saying for fifteen years now that neighborhoods are business districts, and from a broadband infrastructure perspective, you need to design and build networks that can deliver business class services anywhere. The concept that you can put inferior fiber networks in neighborhoods to shove entertainment down a largely one way pipe is an antiquated business model

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