Yahoo memo sparks debate on working at home

jes

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Yahoo memo sparks debate on working at home

An internal memo at Yahoo Inc introducing a ban on working from home has sparked a debate on whether remote working leads to greater productivity and job satisfaction or kills creativity and is just a chance to slack off.
 
Having worked from home in my previous job I see where she's coming from. Though I was generally more productive when I worked from home I was also out of the loop with my co-workers and the quality of collaborative work diminished. At the end of the day it became more annoyance than blessing, because it was impossible to draw the line of where work ended and home life began (and if you're committed to your job you tend to work much longer hours at home) - on the flip side if employees don't have a strong work ethic the temptation to slack off becomes irresistible - and I did have some of those days.

I believe flexible working hours are a great idea, but we should ultimately spend at least some part of the day in the office. I was happy in my last job in that I could ultimately get to the office and leave whenever I wanted (as long as I didn't have a meeting), but I generally came into work for at least a few hours every day after the first year. In my new job I have some flexibility in my hours, but have to be in the office for most of the work day - I thought I would miss my old work-from-home job, but just the opposite has happened - now there's a clear division between home and work life - when I'm at home I don't spend any time working or thinking about work and when I'm in the office I can concentrate on just work.

Just my opinion though, but in the end I think the Yahoo CEO is right, but with the reservation that flexible working hours are important and that there should be some instances (for shortened periods) when employees could be allowed to work from home, eg. research.
 
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I wish SA was a bit more forward thinking like Mr Branson. We have the technology to work from home, why not give employees the option. Government can even give companies a tax break for every person they let work from home. It's less traffic on our roads, which leads to less congestion, less accidents and less pollution. Companies save on office space, electricity, coffee etc..

I was sick at home a couple of weeks ago, but still had to perform my full function remotely. I managed to do more work in one day at home that I could do in an entire week at work. No interruptions, no employees bugging you, pointless chats and meetings were all avoided. My internet at home is about 20x times faster than my company's.

I wouldn't mind working from home permanently, just going in to the office for half day on say, Wednesdays. Any other meetings or employee interaction can by done via Skype video call.
 
In my experience - working from home for longer than three days in a row does not work.
It depends from project to project and the tasks at hand, but you get out of the loop with the rest of your team.

The only time it worked for me was when we were all working on solo projects, and the environment was such that we had to remote into the client's own servers (Located in the most godforsaken places on the planet) to do anything. And the rest of the company was spread over three continents and 5 timezones. Email, Skype and Microsoft Meeting was constantly used.

Problem there is that you actually work more hours and don't know when to stop. And the arrival of my young son put a serious damper on on my productivity.

Next month I'll be off for two weeks recovering from a tonsillectomy. By end of week 1 I plan to start catching up and doing some stuff from home.
 
David Walsh just posted an excellent article about this: http://davidwalsh.name/thoughts-working-remotely

I think it all depends on the company you work for - things are going bad at Yahoo, so the workforce probably has a bad attitude and most probably a lot of fears of future job security, thus they're probably less motivated to do their best for a company they know is on the way down. Compare that to a startup or a modern company where the future is bright and cutting edge technologies are implemented, and I'm sure everybody would be much more productive when working from home.
 
I think the main reason Meyer made the call was because Yahoo required a change in thinking and company culture. The company is probably falling apart and staff morale is low. People are looking out for alternatives, etc. etc. They obviously need strong leadership to build the esprit de corps.

Letting people work from home has its advantages and disadvantages and, as with every management style or HR fad, the pendulum will swing backwards and forwards. I will not pay much attention to Richard Branson's opinion about this. He is a cheerleader and his purpose is to make his people feel good and market the company.
 
I'd love to see some real statistics on productivity for homeworkers vs office. Of course not every job can be done remotely - mine certainly couldn't - but I do other work at home and my productivity is just as high.
 
It also depends on the commute, if you spend about 2 hours a day getting to and from work you are effectively loosing 2 days a month, 24 days a year, just on your commute.

If you spend 3 hours on your daily commute you are wasting more than a MONTH per year just on getting to work and back.
 
Companies can't be concerned about employees' length of commute. The only issue they need to care about is productivity, morale and profitability.
 
Would you agree that those can be influenced by the time you spend on your commute?

That would require analysis to determine. Yes certainly, but there is the offsetting of the office benefits to take into consideration. Point is the office doesn't care if they take up 4 months of your year in your commute. Not their problem.
 
Quite true - that is the employees problem. Personally I love going to work each day and I do find it more productive to be at work than to work from home.
 
Well if they make the work environment a better place than my home, i wouldn't mind.

The funny thing is, Marissa is from Google, and the "Googleplex" is well known to be like a giant themepark for developers. I would love to go to a job where there's a gym,pool,quad bike course, creche , all kinds of food options and all those things. So it's no surprise a place like Google , most likely have everyone working in the "office" than from home because it is more comfortable than your home. Something tells me Google does not have a productivity problem...

I wonder if Marissa is planning to create a "Yahooplex" or whether Yahoo already got an amazing office place? Most likely Yahoo sucks and you sit in a cubicle farm with limited options. I think she is doing it wrong, create a good work environment so people WANT to work at the office...


Either way, i do agree that if you let everyone work remotely without some sort of monitor/supervision, people will abuse it. So it does look like Yahoo might have been lax on taking slackers to task. Although i do think a combination of going to work x-times a week with the option to work from home a % of the time is a better solution.
 
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I don't see the problem working from home. I do it 5 days a week.

I work at the office from 8 to 5 and then work from home from 6 to 11.
 
I don't see the problem working from home. I do it 5 days a week. I work at the office from 8 to 5 and then work from home from 6 to 11.
I think the seniority of the employee and the environment makes a difference. I am not surprised by the Yahoo CEO's decision. Human nature is a tricky thing to fight ;)
 
I think the seniority of the employee and the environment makes a difference. I am not surprised by the Yahoo CEO's decision. Human nature is a tricky thing to fight ;)

Agree. In a previous life I had employees that badly abused the work from home policy. Seems some people cannot resist the temptations that present themselves when there is no supervision.

But in all cases, the first thing that goes when working from home is personal hygiene. :)
 
I agree with the pendulum idea. However, when morale is low and people are worried about their futures, I think that knuckling down and making some personal sacrifices for the good of the group is a good thing. When times are tough, Face Time, responsiveness and communication are important, especially from the leader. As long as Meyer is leading by example, I don't see a problem.
 
Well if they make the work environment a better place than my home, i wouldn't mind.

The funny thing is, Marissa is from Google, and the "Googleplex" is well known to be like a giant themepark for developers. I would love to go to a job where there's a gym,pool,quad bike course, creche , all kinds of food options and all those things. So it's no surprise a place like Google , most likely have everyone working in the "office" than from home because it is more comfortable than your home. Something tells me Google does not have a productivity problem...

I wonder if Marissa is planning to create a "Yahooplex" or whether Yahoo already got an amazing office place? Most likely Yahoo sucks and you sit in a cubicle farm with limited options. I think she is doing it wrong, create a good work environment so people WANT to work at the office...


Either way, i do agree that if you let everyone work remotely without some sort of monitor/supervision, people will abuse it. So it does look like Yahoo might have been lax on taking slackers to task. Although i do think a combination of going to work x-times a week with the option to work from home a % of the time is a better solution.

I'm sure the shareholders would love that, a company bleeding money spending a squillion dollars on a new campus. I'd guess Yahoo's offices are fairly swish anyway. The problem is that I think this will upset the more of the people you want to keep than the ones that are just average, they'll generally stick around unless you made it total torture.

That said, if your colleagues are inspiring, the work is interesting & the office pleasant more people will tend to come in anyway. I definitely looked forward to coming in to the office even though I had the option of working from home at my last job however I'd do anything to be able to work from home a bit in my current job, there's a balance there to be struck and I think it lies somewhere between 60-80% in-office facetime.

if it is because of abuse, I really don't buy the idea that because some people are taking advantage (it's never all of them) a fiat declaration is the best way to go. It'll end up angering the people who are working hard far more and you're more at risk to lose them. It's a manager's job to ensure that people taking advantage are brought to book, if they can't do that without carpet bombing the entire workforce then their processes and metrics are wrong and they aren't worth their salt.
 
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