The “should we be able to/should we encourage our employees to work from home” challenge exists in many businesses, and relates to the marketing, structural and organizational challenges of each organization. Undoubtedly, a lot more people want to “work from home” than can — the Internet abounds with scam offers for home-based work, purportedly showing you how you can make a small fortune, seemingly while sleeping, watching television, or tending to family responsibilities.
Of course, most home-based work isn’t either that simple, nor lucrative, and I’ve discovered that generally home-work opportunities are easiest to justify/co-ordinate when the performance metrics are clear and based on results rather than hours worked. This makes sense, of course, because home-based workers inherently cannot be supervised closely and there are many obvious distractions.
Yes, you can install or mandate tracking tools, which work for online-only (or primarily online) activities — these tools are quite helpful for offshore or remote contracting services such as elance.com or odesk.com. Here, you the employer (or contracting authority) can see screen snapshots of the work in progress on the contractor’s computer. I used this tool recently to nip a problem in the bud — a contractor, despite specific instructions not to do something, was engaging in exactly the type of behaviour I explicitly told him not to do. I quickly cancelled the contract.
In many cases, an office binds/glues and connects the team and facilitates collaboration (with video conferencing and other tools allowing for connecting and working with home-based employees/contractors.)
Like many things in business, there isn’t an easy or simple answer about what is best here. I welcome your observations/experiences, especially about how or whether allowing or restricting home based work has helped or hindered your construction marketing and business development.