Yes, I agree! There are days that I can't get a thing done in the office because I am being asked to help on other projects, so I will go home and work. Actually I go to the coffee shop because when I go home, I have those distractions as well.
It is a balance for sure. This is why flex time is so important. There are days I NEED to be in office, but other days I don't and can be more effective out of the office.
Don't you think we have a bigger obligation to mother nature to reduce greenhouse gases? If we care about job and nature, it makes sense to be efficient both ways.
This argument is like doing theoretical physics and mathematics. They are co-ordinate independent. All you need is computers, books and some communications.
If yahoo is building something or fixing a drain valve, yeah..you need to go there..otherwise why?
The real thing about working from home is that the environment has to right - so for me a seperate area away from the normal home activitities ( shed in the garden), everyone in the house aware that the area is a place of work (especially the children).
Can't do it with a laptop in the living room surrounded by life.
I feel it all depends on the manager and a strict policy. If you work from home (once in a while) declaring your goals regarding completion of work for the day and agreeable to manager then it is good for me.
I have worked at home and in the office. I can say that working from home enables a lot of concentration on the tasks at hand, but being in the office allows for better communication and coordination with coworkers.. it is a trade off and a balance must be found.
My point was that the office-vs-home lines are easily blurred when we're able to connect at any time day or night, and the overriding concern should be that the work gets done correctly and on schedule -- wherever the work gets performed.
Sometimes that "tweak" I mentioned might turn into a multi-hour deal, but if you happen to be focused on the problem at that time, head down and in the zone, then perhaps that is the best time to do it. When you finally get things working and notice that the clock says 3 a.m., maybe you send an email status update and say "see you at lunch time, I need to get some sleep."
Not every engineering task is most efficiently done in cubicle land -- at least not in every instance -- in between meetings and other office distractions. Of course it depends on the environment at home too.
We do need to collaborate and bounce ideas off each other, but sometimes we also need peace & quiet to concentrate, to drill down until a problem is solved. Sometimes the quiet & comfort of home is more conducive to that concentration than the office environment.
At the (hardware) company I work at, the only people who truly work from home are our remote sales staff. Everyone else is required to come into the office (with the exception of the occasional "cable guy" situation). All employees have access to VPN at home/mobile so they remain "plugged in" to some extent after they leave, but aren't necessarily expected to check email frequently when not on site. (Although this is encouraged and informally expected, especially during critical projects/schedules)
As with every company, needing to react quickly is important. I find that, in important situations, being able to walk over to an office and "corner" someone - i.e. be able to speak to them verbally, or call them over to look at a problem immediately is invaluable. It's sometimes frustrating working with our remote sales staff as they frequently drop "off the grid" i.e. don't answer their phone/IM/email for periods of time, and you don't have the luxury of "cornering" them.
Also there's the obvious fact that hardware engineers need to have their hands on hardware, temperature chambers, test equipment, inventory, etc, which precludes from working at home.
Last, as someone with young (not school age) children, I can tell you that it's very difficult to work from home as there are many distractions. Try telling a 2 year old that they need to put their tantrum on hold while you take a phone call.
Agreed that being able to VPN from home to take care of short duration, long-lead tasks such as this is invaluable, but I don't think this is the definition of "working from home" that's being discussed here. I can't imagine why an employer would not allow VPN access to their employees.
Most days I get fed better at work than at home. Plus My work depends on me using hundreds of thousands of dollars of network analyzers, spectrum analyzers and other specilized RF equipment along with radio and antenna designs of all frequencies ranges and sizes.
Testing new radio and antenna designs on the bench and in aircraft along with the need for interfacing with manufacturing in person makes working at work the only choice.
Did I mention the food?
Exactly! If a new edict came down that working from home was no longer allowed, then every project schedule would slip -- whether management would "allow" the reality of the slip to be acknowleged or not.
Probably every IC design or verification engineer has at some point set up automated emails from the tools that let him/her know that the simulation is finished, or the P&R job is finished or whatever.
If that email comes while you're still awake, you have some motivation to jump on the broadband VPN from your home office and get a look at the results. If something went wrong, you can make a tweak and re-start the job right there -- getting a huge leg up on the next work day, compared to coming in the office in the morning and finding a big "oh no!".