Marissa Mayer 3

Working In-person is more productive than working remotely.

Can anyone deny this?

Marissa Mayer’s decree against working from home for Yahoo employees was a courageous step. But admitting that the best work gets done face-to-face begs the question for those of us who can’t work together in the same office: are we underachieving?

This issue is a big challenge for businesses today, because for all but the smallest of companies, remote work is here to stay. Forty-seven percent of Aetna employees telecommute, up from 9%  in 2005. Large corporations are definitively far-flung; it is just not possible for everyone to co-locate. And the bigger the company, the bigger the impact of distance on output.

One way enterprises are dealing with this is to use video as a stand-in for in-person interaction:

  • Live events from executives are being streamed to employees everywhere for a real-time shared experience and consistency of message that can’t be replicated in an email.
  • Video blogging between employees is creating an “almost like I’m there” moment for sharing complex messages and instantly training distributed staff.
  • These recorded experiences are being collected and integrated into content management systems so that organizations can leverage this rich content over time for long-tail learning.

Video is not a tactic, it’s a strategy

This isn’t easy to implement. In some ways, decisions like Yahoo’s make connecting employees via video even more challenging. It’s much easier to stream a video to 5,000 employees spread randomly across the country than it is if they are all in one compound; more than one corporate network has melted during just such a broadcast.

Adopting video communications is not a tactic, it’s a strategy. These video-forward companies are making deliberate changes in how they conduct business. They are integrating video capability into their existing networks. They are adding video to their communication, collaboration and content management platforms. They’re not tacking it on, they’re building it in.

Consider video as a strategic initiative for your company to deal with distance and work. Video lets your team work face-to-face, if not in-person.

From a productivity standpoint, it’s the next best thing to being there.

UPDATE: Another “remote worker” data point beyond Aetna’s 47%: 40% of IBM’s employees work remotely.

Learn more about Qumu’s solution for enterprise video communications.