Working From Home: Friend or Foe?

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Yahoo Bans Working From Home


Remote Employees Watch Out!

In one of the loudest record scratch moments heard around the world, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, has banned working from home.

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.

In Summary:

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!

Grace Lanuza
Grace’s 10+ years in the ever-changing world of experiential marketing taught her the importance of having the right team in the right roles. Expanding her passion for people, Grace recently grew her career in the talent acquisition and employment branding space managing campus recruiting across North America for Mosaic, a top marketing agency. You can expect Grace’s unique voice to be found blogging about Gen Y hiring, motivating your team, interviewing tips and tricks, and best practices to keep remote employees engaged.

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  • Awesome post, Grace! I’m looking forward to seeing more articles on best practices in empowering remote managers from you as I know you are a big advocate.

    As a believer in home offices (I had one very successfully for over 7 years), I believe it takes a special person to succeed in the required self-driven environment. For companies with a lot of personal work (like Potomac Law Group) or with clients across a country, remote managers can add that personal local touch and regional expertise. I hope that companies think through both sides of the home office debate before making a policy as strict as Yahoo’s!

  • Kim Pulchny

    I agree that it takes a special kind of employee to be able to stay focussed and productive working from a home office, however the benefits of having remote managers for certain organizations far outweigh the cons.
    When new employees are set up for a successful home office working environment, companies can have highly motivated and organized individuals who become experts in their markets and the realities of their regions to share with the organization on a larger scale.
    Although in-office collaboration and team work is incredibly important, remote employees should be encouraged to schedule working “office days” (in a coffee shop, at someone’s home office, etc.) to work with other remote employees to collaborate, work through challenges and just feel a part of a bigger team!

  • Always intrigues me when people are sympathetic towards
    me cause I “work from home.” They obviously have never worked with remotely before. They don’t seem to understand how quality of life
    tends to increase due to:

    – No commute = less stress and time wasted on the
    – Ability to make (and eat) homemade meals
    – Work schedule flexibility
    – Working from your bed cause you’re too lazy to
    get up

    Hope my CEO doesn’t make the choice to ban remote work.

  • Pingback: The IT List for Remote Employees | Talent Formula()

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