Talk about creating a fire storm of sorts … Yahoo’s Chief Executive Marissa Mayer certainly got a LOT of attention, and fire, with her decision to put an end to home-based employees. For certain, even before this begins as the new policy this summer, the pundits of various schools of thought have had much to say. You might find this WSJ article of interest as I have, entitled “At Yahoo, Working from Home Doesn’t Work”.
In looking back some 20 years at a time that the concept of being a ‘telecommuter’ launched an attention-getting trend, I can remember the care with which companies even considered whether or not this would work in their particular business. If they were to try it, what would be the characteristics of someone they could ‘trust’ to work just as hard at home as they did in the office? What would be the home ‘office’ set up that employees would be required to have? It was often the norm that someone, perhaps from HR, made a home visit to view and approve the setup required for approval to be granted on a case by case basis. These ‘requirements’ were all in addition to connectivity to the company’s computers and other technicalities that made this even feasible. And it all took place long before the technology advancements that we have today that makes communicating with remote staff members so much easier and even more of a realistic possibility.
However, regardless of all of the communication enhancements, could Yahoo’s move be the result of innovative thinking going too far … or becoming too loose … or even being counterproductive? What we see regularly in the workplace is the application of convenience based communication tools being applied to the extreme and often the detriment of maximum effectiveness within the organization. Emails and voicemails are too often used in ways that create division rather than harmony. Messages are sent and words are used that would not likely be used in direct, face-to-face conversation. These tools become screens to hide behind while some let it all hang out … in some detrimental and destructive ways. And if this had become much too commonplace for the good of the organization when all are working under the same roof, imagine how much easier this is when the screen one is hiding behind is many miles away.
Of course I don’t know how much this issue entered into Yahoo’s decision, however, the guess is that in addition to the envisioned positives of working under one roof, there will also be the potential advantage of lessening some of the communication negatives. If, in fact, the move results in more cohesiveness … better and more effective communication and greater results and success … then it’s simple. YAHOO! Your comments are always welcome!