Many companies are extolling the benefits of teleworking but to my mind, it’s just an excuse to save money. I don’t believe that you can innovate at a distance, form an effective team at a distance, or lead from a distance. certainly you can manage from a distance but leadership of people on a day to day basis requires an emotional connection.
While you might be able to maintain an emotional connection at a distance, I don’t see how you can create one. Without an emotional connection, you are only managing, not leading remote workers.
The point was driven home in a recent HBR article by Walter Isaacson on Steve Jobs. In the article, Jobs is quoted as saying ” There’s a temptation in our networked age to think that ideas can be developed by e-mail and iChat. That’s crazy. Creativity comes from spontaneous meetings, from random discussions. You run into someone, you ask what they’re doing, you say ‘Wow’ and soon you’re cooking up all sorts of ideas.”