When I started as Accordance's sole employee, the company was run completely out of a home office, and I worked at my own home using my own computer. As we added new staff members, the ability to work at home was both a practical necessity and a major perk.
Once we began hiring our own sales staff and selling directly (before that all sales had been handled by another distributor), we decided that we would need a dedicated office for sales. Since the office we got was bigger than the sales staff needed at that time, the development staff was asked if any of us would like to work from the new office. I remember being at a meeting where the question was raised, and we all sort of looked at each other. I think we were each hoping someone else would take it so we wouldn't have to turn it down. Eventually, we realized that none of us wanted that office space. We all had been spoiled by years of working at home.
I was reminded of this the other day when I saw a coworker post on Facebook that his family had gone to the beach while he was stuck at home working. I was tempted to tease him that his post might not engender much sympathy from someone stuck working in an office rather than at home. Instead of picking on him, I just posted another one of my "Jo Jo stories"—funny anecdotes I'll share about my five-year-old's exploits. Those are stories I'd never be able to tell if I had to work from an office every day.
Now, there are certainly advantages to having all your staff work from a single location. A random interaction between two employees at the proverbial water-cooler can sometimes lead to new solutions and greater cooperation. On the other hand, our flexibility to allow staff to work from anywhere has meant keeping great employees who had to move across town or out of state. It has also meant landing great employees who happen to live across the country or across the world. We don't have to turn away a great candidate simply because of geography.
There's one other major advantage to our willingness to allow telecommuting. The fact that most of us gladly work from home means that the vast majority of Accordance's revenues go directly toward ongoing development and customer service. Because we're not having to pay huge rents, mortgages, or utility bills, we're able to make the money you spend go farther and accomplish more with it.
Getting our first sales office was a major step in our growth as a company, but that didn't stop our development staff from continuing to do its homework.