I’ve been saying this for a long time, it’s no longer about where the work is getting done, it’s about who is doing it, and who is managing them.
Given the right environment, remote workers enhance your business rather than tax it. If they’re off on their own little islands or generally ineffective, that’s a people problem – not a proximity problem.
The problem will follow them right back to the corporate office. Using outputs of effort to measure of productivity saps the life right out of your workforce. And telling them how their work should be done throttles their capacity for creative problem-solving.
I’ve seen teams work across continents and be highly collaborative, and I’ve seen teams working in the same place be unable to work together. I’ve seen just about everything in between as well. Just in the last few years I’ve worked in a variety of environments and I can honestly say the location is a very small part of success. Being in the same place makes some things easier, yes, but people who don’t get along won’t suddenly work well together when in the same place, and managers who fail to engage their reports will do that no matter where they are located. The distance is just an excuse people make because actually managing people is work.
In 2017 there’s little reason for companies, including law firms, to not have some remote workers. The same technology they use to communicate across offices, can be used to communicate from anywhere. If they aren’t, that’s a failure of personnel.