Just my two cents

Musings on social media and the world as I see it

Yoo-hoo, Yahoo! In support of telecommuting.

16 Comments


telecommutingThe now infamous Yahoo! letter to staff is a hot topic this week. If you don’t live under a proverbial rock, then you know its CEO, Marissa Mayer, banned telecommuting across the board.

Since the news broke, there have been many reactions. From a heated debate on the Today’s Professionals segment on the Today Show, to TIME magazine calling it “the memo read round the world,” to The Atlantic’s “Chill Out” response, the reactions have been all over the board. I also loved Gini Dietrich’s take on it in this post on her Spin Sucks blog, rewriting the original memo to be more empathetic and less of a cold and heartless edict (which IMHO it clearly was!).

What was so interesting is the wide range of reactions. Some said it represents a step (or 20 steps, or 100 steps) backward for working women everywhere. It’s another sign that the glass ceiling will not soon be broken. On the other hand, there have been the supporters saying she’s a CEO who is charged with the company’s success and she’s doing what she feels is the best thing to do for the good of the company. Still others thing it is just a way to weed out the deadwood for an upcoming mass layoff.

While we will never know what was in the mind of Mayer for implementing this huge change, one thing is for sure. If Mayer wanted to bring attention to Yahoo!, then she’s succeeded. Who said “There’s no such thing as bad press?”

Now frankly, I don’t care what Yahoo! has in place for its staff policies. I have no plans on relocating across the country to work for a tech company in the Silicon Valley. As a telecommuter myself, however, I was definitely paying close attention to the scuttlebut on this one. If Yahoo! can do this, then will other companies begin to follow suit? More watercooler meetings and less conference calls in pajamas? Can the past be rearing its ugly head and bringing cube farms back in vogue? Oh say it ain’t so!

I definitely sympathize with those people whose lives are about to change drastically. After telecommuting, I don’t think I could possibly go back to working in a cubicle. I know my company definitely benefits from my own telecommuting. Yoga pants and bad hair days aside, I work many more hours, I’m much more focused and I’m completely more productive thanks to a lack of interruptions all day long. On top of that, I don’t have firewall issues to contend with during the day either. All this adds up to an amazing amount of work being pulled off on a daily basis. Besides the benefits to the company, I’m happier and less stressed. Isn’t that what every company should be hoping for with their own staff?

So I ask you, what would you do if your company suddent banned telecommuting – would you stay or jump ship?

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Author: Nancy Jean

I love reading, writing, music, the beach, and being a mom to two rescue dogs. My job is social media for health care.

16 thoughts on “Yoo-hoo, Yahoo! In support of telecommuting.

  1. I like the decision that Yahoo, Marissa, Mayer, made. For every 1 person that is more productive working from home, human nature tells us that there are 2-3 hiding and being non-productive. Or sending e-mails early and late to make it seem like they were working all day. I work from home on most days, but definitely think there is a benefit to being in an office and having real-time discussions to solve problems and talk things through. It would be a struggle to go back to an office full-time, but the tradeoff is that it will probably keep their jobs around longer. The trajectory of Yahoo was not good and needs the change. (from an outsiders perspective).

    • Oh Brian you said a lot! There are two sides to everything, isn’t there? I’d have a struggle too, but if it were that or unemployment, guess where I’d be! Thanks for reading and for the comment!

  2. I have two thoughts on this that are not related to communications, which is the perspective I took when I blogged about it.

    1. We – the public – have no idea what’s going on internally. Since the memo was leaked, I’ve been privy to some insider information and I think the ban, while a bit swift, was likely the right thing to do. It’s very difficult to say, “Hey, you people over there? You’re low-performers so we’re going to bring you into the office. And you over there? You’re high-performers so you can stay in your PJs.” They had to do it company-wide or it wouldn’t work. Perhaps a year from now they’ll go back to letting people telecommute.

    2. I run a completely virtual company. But, until a year ago, we were half and half. The people who were in the office resented those who “got” to work from home. They locked them out of meetings, they didn’t share knowledge, they complained about them, and the talked badly about them to new employees. It didn’t matter what I did to get those people into the office (at least once a month), it didn’t work. Now multiply that by 16,000,000,000,000. It’s not a culture I’d want to manage. I would roll my eyes multiple times a day with a much smaller staff.

    • Gini thanks SO much for the comments. I agree with your take on it. You never know what goes on behind closed doors, and usually a business decisions isn’t always a big hit with staff. I’m sure you’ve seen that yourself. But “culture” is definitely key. And I’m sure she is trying to create a culture that will work for them and that means a lot of evaluation. Hard to do when you’re not sure who’s doing what! I’m sure more will come to light as time goes on, and I do hope that Yahoo! is able to succeed under its new CEO. But selfishly, I hope this doesn’t but a black mark on the whole concept of telecommuting!

  3. Banning telecommuting would kill us as a company. We, like many well-run Internet-oriented companies, have (and actively recruit) for talent, regardless of geographic location. If we can legally pay them (sorry, North Korea); if they have the skills and mindset we need; and, most importantly, if they have the communication skills, then I’m very interested in a (virtual) face-to-face. We can teach our coding style; we can teach the ins and outs of the languages and tools we use. We cannot, as a startup, teach communication skills. We can’t work with someone who doesn’t have the self-discipline to be a teammate in a small, distributed, focused team under extreme pressure since Day One.

    It’s been my experience that teams that communicate well tend to be very successful, and teams that don’t, rarely if ever are. It’s been the observation of a great many people, formally and otherwise, that creative teamwork often-to-usually is best done in a remote-collaboration environment. For an excellent, if PG-13-rated discussion of this, I generally refer people to Zach Holman of GitHub. He uses Frederick Winslow Taylor and, indirectly, Peter Drucker, to show why any business activity that does not directly foster either innovation or marketing, or preferably both, is a self-destructive activity. And Meyer’s memo is, at best, something out of a world that Drucker, Taylor and others spent their careers trying to drag us out of.

    • Great to connect with you, and thanks for the comments! Glad to see that people still recognize the value of a good work ethic and teamwork to realize results!

  4. If you don’t live under a proverbial rock, then you know its CEO, Marissa Mayer, banned telecommuting across the board. “You are such a snot”

  5. I run a virtual company too and it’s worked for me and my team for over 8 years. There are challenges and it reguires a lot of effort to stay connected via skype, conference calls, texts, drop box, other tools. Most of my team believe it’s a great deal and they work hard and never miss deadlines. I don’t see telecommuting going away. I also think the rules need to be clear and expectations laid out, especially for larger companies. One thing is clear to me: having people report to an office does not guarantee an unproductive tele-commuter suddenly becoming a productive in-office worker.

    • Hi Patricia and thanks for reading, and of course, for your comments! It DOES require a lot of effort to make it work. I love your point about the rules and expectations being clear. That is important for any job, but for telecommuting it’s vital. But having worked in offices, cube farms and home, I know I am at my best when I don’t have the distractions of being in an office. Your last point — SO true! There is definitely no guarantee.

  6. I think it’s a wrong decision for Marissa Mayer to stop employee telecommuting. I personally tend to work way harder at home than I do in the office. Mainly because there are a lot less distractions, I can focus on the work at hand, and I don’t usually take breaks.

    Telecommuting also saves the company money, since that person is not using the company’s resources, such as electricity, hot water, paper towels, toilets, toilet paper, coffee, etc… etc.. so if the company is already hurting financially, this certainly won’t help things, besides you’ve just pissed off the very people who are supposed to help bail you out of your financial mess.

    Another reason it’s a bad idea is that some people see it as a perk, and why would you want to take that away from an employee. If you feel the need to take that away from an employee because you don’t trust that they are doing their fair share of work, then that employee doesn’t belong in the company in the first place.

    Sounds like she needs to learn a few things as a manager.

    I really hope they can get their act together.

    • Thanks so much for reading and for your comments. I agree that the employees will not be happy about this (and that’s why the memo was leaked!). I’m sure she had her reasons for it, but to not explain it, and to do it in such a cold way was definitely a problem. Do I think she will lose a lot of good people? Yes. Without a doubt. But maybe she wanted to cut the workforce and this was a way to do it? I don’t know, just a guess. Only time will tell. But I do hope they can get their act together too. Thanks again!

      • Another thing that really irritates me about this is that she is not taking into consideration the environmental impacts of her decision. It will add traffic to the roads, causing longer commute times for those of that do work in offices, it will consume more gasoline (because the non-commuters are now on the road and the rest of have to sit in traffic longer), which in-turn, can lead to higher gasoline prices for the rest of us. There’s so much more that needs to be taking into consideration before dictating such a “bone-head” decision.

  7. Being involved in tech companies all my life I believe that sometimes it is necessary to hire people who are working from home due to many reasons but i personally always prefer going to office then working from home. It’s a personal choice. But as tech companies go I believe they should focus on creating an environment where the developers and designers feel comfortable to work. I have worked with many developers and designers over the years both who are full time working in offices and those working form homes as well. All of them did not like the cubicle style of workplace and preferred an open and relaxed working environment. I try to give similar environment for the people working for me even when I have to fight with the higher management. And I always get better productivity out of people by this way. I agree with @ginidietrich as well i have seen people working full time looking down upon people working from home and assuming that they are all having a blast and the ones coming to office are doing all the work.
    I believe there should be a policy to have a certain percentage of workforce allowed to work from home and under certain conditions. At same time people working from home should be evaluated with more frequently and their working hours must be same as that of people coming to work daily.

    • Thanks for your comment! I love your point about creating a comfortable environment. That is definitely key! If people aren’t comfortable, they’re not going to be happy or productive, right? And I completely agree that there is still a feeling that people who telecommute don’t work as much or as hard as those in the office. But I think that feeling pushes people (at least most of them) to work harder and smarter and prove their existence! IT’s definitely not easier.

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