Adrian Howard adrianh at
Fri Dec 9 17:23:40 GMT 2011

On 9 Dec 2011, at 13:16, David Cantrell wrote:

> On Fri, Dec 09, 2011 at 01:57:56PM +0100, Richard Foley wrote:
>> Seriously, if some of these managers could get their heads around leveraging
>> the power of telecommuting project teams, they'd not have to worry too much
>> about the respective costs of having a team in any one country.
> This idea that with the right magic pixie dust teleworking can be made
> to work regardless of the company, the colleagues, and the employee is a
> nice idea, but I have seen no evidence whatsoever that it is true.
> Teleworking erects barriers to communication both between customer
> (internal or external doesn't matter) and geek, and indeed between you
> and the rest of the people you're working with.  And communication is
> *important*.  WAY more important than most geeks seem to think.

Indeed. There's even (gasp!) evidence ;-) 

A whole bunch of CSCW and social science folk have looked at how teams produce work, and distributed teams come out worse and so called "radically colocated" teams come out best ("war room" type setups where everybody on a project in in the same room).

See for a selection of references... assuming delicious has decided to keep the links live today :-/

That isn't to say that you can't do good work on distributed teams, or that it's evil, or that you shouldn't want to telecommute. I do a lot of remote work myself since I decided to pick quality of life in lovely Dorset over the big city.

Just that there's a fairly large amount of evidence that distributed work has a pretty large productivity hit (if anybody has any actual research that shows otherwise I'd love to see it - I've actively looked and not found any in the past). 


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