I firmly believe that you should expect employees to show up for work, whenever possible, no matter what kind of company.For over 9 months, I have been telecommuting 2 days a week. 3 other people in my team have also been telecommuting 2 days a week. One other telecommutes full time.
The reasons for this have nothing to do with checking that people are actually working. It's about efficient communications, building company culture and camaraderie, and sharing the daily bits of work and personal experiences that create a shared sense of purpose.
There are things that have not been communicated, or grown in the last while for us. That being said, I do love the freedom it brings me. It allows for more time with my family. I have less driving and lots of other benefits. I have more loyalty for my employer. Why would I want to leave and not have the benefit of working from home two days? I think my employer has made a good decision by allowing us to work from home.
We have been thinking about what we can do as a group to improve our collaboration. This is much more natural when you are all sitting in the same room. Conversations start. You show each other what you are working on. Expressing frustrations are an easy open into offering assistance. Input into design and best practices are shared.
We are moving towards a more formal software development methodology. A little more structured. Three goals so far are to design in pairs, do side by side code reviews, and have quicker iterations in our cycle. I hope that by following some structured guidelines, we will foster collaboration that happened easier when we all sat next to each other 5 days a week.