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Yahoo Bans Working From Home
Remote Employees Watch Out!
What does this really mean?
Attention remote employees: hang up that housecoat and put your shoes on!
The backlash that followed her risky move in this era of telecommuting continues to ripple the airwaves. Add this to the “Leaning In” concept from Sheryl Sandberg and you have the perfect storm of powerful women making big statements about business. Ironically, Sandberg is in support of Mayer’s move (go women power!) but that’s another blog post.
Mayer’s decision is backed by data – hard evidence that made her decide on this risky move. She believes the risk of losing employees who thrive working from home is outweighed by the benefits of office-based collaboration. Some are outraged yet others agree. My belief – it’s a ballsy call.
Is Yahoo Creating a Dangerous Precedent?
The decision to ban working from home might be the right move for Yahoo at this time and can potentially provide structure that they clearly lack. However, is this just a band-aid solution?
Is Yahoo addressing the bigger issues here? Issues like: gaps between expectations and results, performance gaps, and a de-motivated work force? Is the risk of losing productive, long term employees worth it? How does this fly with the Gen Y crowd? Are they losing high potential young employees with this policy? I bet that the talented Tim Ferriss would lose his mind if he has to go into an office!
Smart Employers Empower Remote Managers
(as long as it Supports Their Business Model)
There was a recent CNN feature on the Potomac Law Group – a company that specifically hires lawyers who want a remote working environment. Ben Lieber, the firm founder, says: “The attorneys are actually more productive because they work a flexible schedule. And about 95 percent of the work is done at home, which is possible with legal work because most of it is research or preparing documents.”
He makes a great point – some careers are suited to remote work environments versus an office. And some just aren’t. I wouldn’t want a surgeon to be dictating surgery techniques over Skype to a patient self-administering their own procedure! On the flip side, there are many companies who have seen consistent success when nurturing a work from home environment such as Aetna, Cisco and American Express. In the marketing industry where I work, remote managers successfully work from home managing local teams outside of the corporate headquarters.
I think there isn’t a blanket answer to this question. I challenge leaders to understand the business case for or against remote employees based on their unique environment, business objectives, and talent. Don’t jump onto the Mayer bandwagon without thinking it through!