Technology, Innovation, Impact. Humor on the side.
The web is abuzz this week after the leak of Yahoo!’s recent announcement eradicating work-from-home privileges. Forgive me, I could not help myself and desire to throw my own two cents into the mix.
As someone who generally spends about 80% of every week traveling for work, I can honestly say that the work-from-home flexibility for the remainder of the week is necessary to maintain any semblance of balance. (Contrary to what others may think, the glamour of business travel wears off pretty quickly and the “perks” of racking up hotel points and crazy airline mileage is ability to subsidize/expense even more travel! But, I digress…) Does working remote make me less productive?
Without the barrage of interruptions of people popping in to ask questions, working from home allows me to focus more at a given time, which in turn enables me to complete my work faster, which means I can also squeeze in that appointment or put in a load of laundry or actually take a lunch break without falling behind on work. This model works for employees like me because in a given week you get the best of both worlds – time at home to take care of work and personal things, and time collaborating with others in-person in the office. I do not think that a completely telecommuting model is as effective as it could be; I have seen first-hand the difficulties in being innovative or trying to kick-off a new team when everyone is scattered all over and too comfy working in their pjs.
The changed policy at Yahoo! is thus probably a good thing for the company…right now. If they have any hope for redefining and reshaping, they need to be able to interact and bounce ideas and create amongst themselves, which is far more difficult to do without being face-to-face. Think about it – how many start-ups do you see that have employees working remotely? Part of the creative and building process depends on being able to freely bounce ideas back and get inspiration from outside the norm/home.
Yahoo is definitely not a start-up, but in many ways what it seeks to do in revamping itself mirrors start-ups. At this stage, Yahoo needs the ability to take advantage of not only its employees brilliance but also the resulting brilliance and innovation that comes from collaboration.That said, if this becomes the long-term strategy of the company, I think the policy will have detrimental effects to morale, presence, and in turn the creative process as a whole.
Lastly, I also cannot help but wonder whether this whole leak and resulting debate is a marketing tactic? Let’s face it – the topic is controversial and has gotten a lot of attention everywhere from Twitter feeds to LinkedIn Thought Leader pieces to the NYT to break-room discussions at offices. It’s gotten people talking about Yahoo! more than anytime in relatively recent history (excluding Marissa Mayer, young and pregnant, being brought in as CEO). There is no such thing as bad publicity, or at least that is how the saying/cliché goes…