Main menu


The Future of Telecommuting: 3 Business Professors Speak Out

The Future of Telecommuting: 3 Business Professors Speak Out

work at homePhotography/Getty Images

Working from home has become the “new normal” in many industries.

Kennedy RyanSeptember 27, 2022

With “working from home” becoming the new normal, some companies are moving their employees back to the office. Some argue that no returns are necessary.

What are the benefits of moving work online? Is there something missing in your company culture as a result? Is working from home as effective as an office environment?

BrandeisNow asked three faculty members at Brandeis International Business School three different questions to get their take on the “new normal” of office culture. Benjamin Gomes-Casseres ’76, He Peter A. Petri Professor of Business and Society, Daniel Bergstresser, Associate Professor of Finance, and Ahmad Namini, Professor of Business Analysis Practice, share their thoughts.

Ben Gomez Caceres

Ben Gomes-Casseres ’76, Peter A. Petri Professor of Business and Society

What are the advantages of the online format of work?

Gomez Caceres: The rise of remote work is a revolution. We suddenly discovered new ways of interacting and collaborating. When communication technologies such as telephones and the Internet came to market, they revolutionized the way we live and work. Today’s remote work technology is disrupting the way we live, shop and work.

Before Covid, it was like being happy to live on an island even if you couldn’t swim. When the water recedes, this new skill opens up new landscapes and it’s fun too!

That’s what happened in the way we work, especially in the knowledge industry. Most companies were happy to work directly in the office. After that, they were forced to learn to work remotely, and now remote he has found work productive and rewarding. It also expands the geographic reach and diversity of our teams, shortens commute times, and helps people balance work and home.

Depending on the industry and task, remote work can be more or less effective and even feasible. Telehealth is a useful new modality in mental health, but not in podiatry. In my field, I know that’s not the case with K-12, but I know remote learning works well for graduate and professional studies. But in each case we learned new ways of working. As new techniques are developed, the methods are only getting better.

As companies work more online and with more diverse teams, they need to learn how to manage their environment to get the most out of it. It’s not the same as managing a face-to-face office or meeting.

This revolution actually makes working in-office in person more dangerous. This means that face-to-face activities must be more effective and engaging than before.

That’s why the return-to-office movement seems forced, and it becomes a battle between superiors and subordinates, baby boomers and younger generations. How much remote work should there be? The push and pull we’ve seen can be the way problems are solved.

But there should be a better way to solve the problem. I have to go back to the island and reconsider why I need an office in the first place and how I can use it better. At the same time, we also acknowledge that online meetings and remote work are better for some tasks, especially some people. Then you have to find flexible ways to enable people to do their best work, regardless of location.

I know it’s easier said than done. However, creating an inclusive culture and work environment is the choice of management. Organizations that seize this opportunity attract top talent.

Daniel Bergstressor

Daniel Bergstresser, Associate Professor of Finance

Is there anything missing in the work-from-home culture?

Burg stressor: I believe that working remotely can be used successfully as a complement to in-person work. Companies are experimenting with what they can do in person and remotely, but I don’t think there is a general formula for success yet.

Working as part of a team helps build trust and trust among colleagues in a face-to-face environment. If your team was built before the pandemic, that trust already exists and doesn’t need to be developed.

There is tension between senior employees, who often want to do what is best for them, and newer generations of employees, such as young graduates, who benefit from these first-hand experiences. Face-to-face interactions are useful for mentoring and building new relationships.

I think it takes some experimentation to figure out what works well. Even 90% of the business environment is virtualized. Many interactions do not require face-to-face meetings. But I think in an increasingly virtual world, some face-to-face presence will continue to be helpful.

Ahmad Namini

Ahmad Namini, Professor of Business Analytics Practice

Do you think ‘working from home’ is as effective as working face-to-face?

Namini: From a cost perspective, the hybrid format is the best option. Some jobs require face-to-face meetings, but I don’t think companies should continue to work in expensive office spaces. Healthcare, laboratory research, and manufacturing come to mind. Even if you’re not physically in the office, you can work more efficiently with Zoom on your desktop. This flexibility and reduced transportation time and costs allows people to spend more time at work.

We also saw a new speed. In the past, when meetings were held at 10:00 am, people would chat and end up wandering into the office. If the meeting is at 10:00 AM, participants will join and start on time. It is productive, and with more participants sharing their image with everyone, people are more engaged, pay more attention, and contribute more to the discussion. Protection can still be done via direct chat or chat broadcast to all participants.

Personally, I like coming to the office because I’m faced with distractions at home, such as the TV, dog, and refrigerator. However, those who feel that working from home will result in a better quality of work should be given this opportunity. For me, flexibility is something I enjoy, and the quality of my interactions with others during office hours, class instruction, and general meetings seems to be improving.

Work-life balance is becoming as valuable as a salary. I tell my students to join a company that treats you as a person, not a commodity. I believe that managing this modality requires trust, maturity, and resources, but anything that enhances human quality of life and increases economic productivity should be encouraged.