Working remotely has many considerations. I think it is easy for outsiders to consider it the ideal situation, but nothing is without its drawbacks.
Chief among the concerns of working outside the office is the lack of co-worker communication. The 37 Signals blog recently considered this issue in a post entitled “Embracing Slow Time.” In it, Jason Zimdars concludes that immediate access to a communication channel can be detrimental to one’s own problem solving ability.
In my own work day, I often find myself quickly composing an email, only to let it stay in a draft stage for most of the day. Upon my return to it, many times I will entirely re-write my thoughts on the matter, or decide the message was not worth sending at all and trash it.
Often during the process of trying to articulate a problem, one will solidify the real issues internally. Once that occurs, the impetus for the initial outreach may have changed or disappeared altogether. At the very least, the actual communication will be more focused and concise than the first draft was.
In my own struggles with connectedness in a remote office, I have found a hybrid approach to be the most beneficial. The quiet of focus and allowing the subconscious to fully digest an issue is a solution to the majority of my problems. However, the immediacy of a phone call and the back and forth of discussion can often lead to unexpected and rewarding results.
I imagine that the achievements of humanity are born from equal parts solitude and collaboration. We praise the lone genius just as we commend the power of teamwork. Maybe the key is knowing how much of each we need in our own day, and embracing it.