The work from home debate has been re-ignited in the media this week courtesy of Yahoo’s decision to abolish its “work at home” policy. In a move to increase creativity and innovation, Yahoo employees have been ordered back to the office.
However, how will this move impact productivity?
As reported in the New York Times (“Yahoo Orders Home Workers Back to the Office” by Claire Cain Miller and Catherine Rampell, published February 25, 2013), there are studies on this very point.
“Studies show that people who work at home are significantly more productive but less innovative, said John Sullivan, a professor of management at San Francisco State University who runs a human resource advisory firm. “If you want innovation, then you need interaction,” he said. “If you want productivity, then you want people working from home.””
This geographic debate is alive and well in the field of document review as well. Specifically, is it better to have a review team together and collaborating on site, or to have them at home individually focused on the documents, free from distraction? It’s an interesting question.
The answer may often be a hybrid approach. Keep the team together for the first week of the review. This allows the team to obtain immediate answers to the numerous questions that arise during the early stages of a project, and allows for coding instruction changes and technical support on the fly while the team becomes familiar with the records.
However, to maximize productivity, send the team home after the first week. This allows review lawyers to work free from the group distractions, eliminates the commute, and permits them to work when they are individually most productive and focused. After all, in the world of document review, unlike working for a tech company, productivity must reign over innovation.