How Important Is Choosing Where We Work?

Last week on the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz, our conversation was a potpourri. Unfortunately time ran out before we got to the last headline. Give the recent outcry about telecommuting and flexible workplaces, it seemed worth taking a closer look at what was really underneath the discussion.

It all started with Marisa Mayer

As I wrote in the brief introduction last week, It is uncertain that Marissa Mayer was intending to trigger an intense conversation about where people work. I imagine she was looking at Yahoo and how it could function better. However, she touched a nerve.

This response highlights a major shift

There has been a progression in the workplace to being connected twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. This means we can work anywhere with our laptops, our tablets and smartphones. But this does mean that the old model of coming to the office and staying there for the workday has become outdated and maybe even impractical. Yet, there are holdouts. Last week, there was a report about a recent study done in Ireland in which 73% of employers feared a “loss of control” if their workers had a flexible workplace. Now, they also expressed concerns about the cost of this workplace practice as well as productivity.

What if we treated workers like the adults they are?

In a Harvard Business Review blog post, Leigh Thompson notes that workers are seeking autonomy. It is a remarkable thing when your employer recognizes you as an skilled adult who can manage a workload without babysitting. Thompson noted that some people like the structure of coming into the “commons”. Being in the physical workplace can provide boundaries that increases productivity. For others, they crave the “cave”, being home provides comfort and space that can increase productivity. These are choices that honor autonomy.

Would a conscious choice to allow workers to choose their best work environment prevent negative behaviors?

There are upsides and downsides to companies dictating where you can work. There is also the danger of workers simply tuning out and creating their own workspaces, regardless of any company policy.


Why do employers believe they have to contain their workers to foster high productivity?

What is the furor triggered by Marisa Mayers’ decision really about?

What is the real/actual impact on business goals and revenue growth when companies use flexible workplaces as their norm?

How would you incorporate flexible workplaces into industries that require workers to be on site (ex. manufacturing)?

Is the search for some control or autonomy in the workplace reflecting something larger in society? Why or why not?

About the author:  Elli St.George Godfrey, founder of Ability Success Growth, small business coach and executive coach, is the host of KaizenBiz. I’m passionate about business becoming a more human-centered place so I host this chat to connect business ideas and develop people.This passion shows up in my work with my clients. Whether you are expanding locally or internationally, Ability Success Growth guides established small business owners and executives to unlock the CEO within during times of transition and growth.