The Next Big Thing
Posts about next generation technologies and their effect on business.

Do telecommuters need a level of unstructured interaction to really be productive?

telecommute.pngSince I’ve been working at home most of the time, I do seem to be very productive and it is definitely more flexible, but it is possible that I am not as innovative or impactful as in a traditional work environment. This is one of the reasons that Marissa Mayer pulled all the Yahoo people back in from telecommuting.

 

It is the interaction of familiar strangers that can cause chance innovation to take place. The fact that we run into people from a variety of areas just by our proximity can cause cross-pollination of ideas to take place that wouldn’t happen any other way. This underlying level of buzz may actually help ideas spread.

 

The IEEE spectrum podcast even had a brief post called Telecommuting, Serendipity and Innovation, talking about research performed based on innovation and their relative vicinity.  

 

It does make me wonder if the telecommuters could use something similar. I’ve tried with a few others to use Google+ Hangouts, but that experiment didn’t last all that long. There are the social groups that most companies have through SharePoint, Jive or other tools, but their asynchronous nature and the degree of self-filtering used makes interaction based less on chance and more on interests.

 

If you telecommute, how do you increase your sphere of concern and sphere of influence?? It may not be limited to telecommuters either, since any geographically diverse organization has limits for interaction between groups.

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About the Author(s)
  • Steve Simske is an HP Fellow and Director in the Printing and Content Delivery Lab in Hewlett-Packard Labs, and is the Director and Chief Technologist for the HP Labs Security Printing and Imaging program.
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