Recently, Best Buy and Yahoo! Inc. curtailed their work-from-home programs. That makes sense to us. All Elliott Company offices in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles are located in downtown business districts, and we require our salespeople to use these offices. When we interview candidates for open positions, they often ask us why, citing mobile technologies and business trends that have made working from home acceptable. Several other sales organizations allow it, so they think we should too.
We have consistently followed this policy since the founding of the company, and have no plans to change because our management really knows what it’s like to sell advertising. It can be stressful, and a supportive social environment helps. Day after day, our salespeople have to jump through agency hoops. They hear the word “NO!” more than they would like. They get beat up and pushed around. To keep our salespeople positive, we want to surround them with encouraging energy and helpful ideas. It’s easier to keep morale high when salespeople are located together. Also, we share leads and information better when the process is face-to-face and informal. It’s no more complicated than that.
In March 2013, the National Bureau of Economic Research published new research saying that productivity can increase when work-from-home policies are implemented. Maybe so: it certainly is possible that some kinds of work can be done better from home. However, we think it is a mistake to isolate advertising salespeople.