Branson: Companies should let staff work from home

accreditation
Richard Branson.
Richard Branson.

London - Unless you have a technical job like flying an airplane, you can probably do it from home, says Richard Branson.

Companies that forbid the practice, such as Yahoo, put pressure on families and limit opportunities for women, according to the Virgin Group founder.

"Most of the head-office type of jobs around the world, they can offer complete flexibility," said Branson when he sat down with Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg on Bloomberg TV this week.

"If [people with children] can get the job done at home and they can be around their kids, then I think that's good for the family and good for the business and good for the individual," Branson said.

Asked whether he believes Yahoo Chief Executive Marissa Mayer's decision, two years ago, to limit telecommuting puts it on the wrong side of history, Branson said yes — calling it "a mistake" that may not benefit the company's productivity.

Mayer was widely criticised when she ended Yahoo's work-from-home policy in February 2013 because she felt employees "[needed] to be working side-by-side". Critics, including Branson, said that telecommuting typically improves productivity and that the flexibility to stay home occasionally could be the difference between a parent advancing in her career and having to quit. In their lively conversation with Bloomberg's Emily Chang, he and Sandberg again stressed their support for the practice.

There's a difference between seeming productive and being productive, Sandberg said. "Of course we care that people tried, but when you do that, you build this culture of being seen in the office trying, which is different than results," she said.

What's more, much of what happens at work is a performance. "I think a lot of office work and communication is too long, too formal," Sandberg said. "Cutting things down can save a lot of time and make a lot more room for people to be parents."

While many companies endorse some degree of flexibility for parents, working from home as a universal policy is still contentious. On one point, however, few would disagree. Describing the superfluous things about office life, she said: "The meetings are too long."

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Rand - Dollar
14.59
+0.1%
Rand - Pound
20.13
+0.1%
Rand - Euro
17.17
+0.1%
Rand - Aus dollar
10.65
+0.1%
Rand - Yen
0.13
+0.2%
Gold
1,759.16
+0.3%
Silver
22.96
+0.2%
Palladium
2,003.00
-1.5%
Platinum
945.29
+1.0%
Brent Crude
75.67
+0.3%
Top 40
57,098
0.0%
All Share
63,314
0.0%
Resource 10
58,796
0.0%
Industrial 25
80,358
0.0%
Financial 15
13,942
0.0%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Company Snapshot
Voting Booth
What potential restrictions on unvaccinated South Africans may make the biggest difference to public health, the economy?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Limited access to restaurants and bars
10% - 39 votes
Limited access to shopping centres
17% - 66 votes
Limited access to live events, including sport matches and festivals
28% - 111 votes
Workplace vaccine mandates
46% - 184 votes
Vote