Virtual teams are increasingly popular. One of the software companies I most admire has an entirely virtual company of over 40 people spread all over the world cranking out outstanding software. Yet the concept is terrifying to a lot of managers. Highlights of the big fears include:
- Will productivity go down? There are a lot of distractions at home and presumably the workplace is optimized for workplace productivity better than home, right?
- Will we lose that intangible synergy that you get working in the same room with other folks?
- Will I, as a manager, be able to have a sense of whether folks are working? Of what they are working on?
- Will we still feel like a team?
The RescueTime product team is a small one (5 people), but we think this is big enough to run an experiment… For this entire week, we’ll all be working from our homes. Here are the questions we’ll be answering at the end of the week (many of them will have juicy data bits, thanks to RescueTime):
- Do we end up spending more time in aggregate on our productive tasks? In theory, having no commute, no walk to lunch, and no drive-by interruptions in the office wil actually result in more minutes spent doing actual product development (or more free time!).
- Does communication time go up radically? Without the ability to interrupt our teammates, we’ll have to resort to emailing and IMing. How much time will this suck up?
- Is our total work-day longer? Are we replacing our commute times with computer time or free time?
- Does our work day become more spread out? Working from home presumably makes it easier to punt work when you hit a wall. Does this happen? If it does, do people make it up at other times during the day?
- (Subjective) How does the change FEEL? Do we feel less creative? Collaborative? Connected? Does it effect how much we like (or don’t like) our jobs?
Stay tuned– early next week I’ll be posting a graph-heavy post with the results!