Yahoo! or Oh No! No More Telework?

This just in an ailing company has decided that banning telework is the way to get themselves back on track.

Yahoo! released a memo last week that tells employees that telework is no longer acceptable and that employees need to physically be in the office in order to effectively collaborate and communicate. According to Yahoo! having people at their desks and in their cubicles will help grease the wheels for an environment that’s agile, collaborative and flexible.

I know the first reaction is to say “WOAH this is a major step back” but as I sit and think about it I think I see some of the pros as well:

  • I do think that I get more done when I’m in the office.
  • I do think I do a better job communicating with my colleagues when I’m in the office
  • I do think that having a person be out of the office puts a strain not only on themselves but their colleagues as well
  • Being in the office creates a known quantity of on vs. off time
  • It allows you to observe body language and the context of things

With all those pluses I do get the minuses as well:

  • Can starve innovation
  • Creates a 9 to 5 feeling with no sense of desire or emotion
  • Can get loud
  • Makes work feel less flexible and more rigid

Don’t get me wrong I think there’s a time and place for telework but I also am a strong believer that there’s a time and place for parking it at my desk or cubicle (note your workplace should strive to be a place that doesn’t feel like prison).

I know teleworks a hot topic on GovLoop right now so wondering what people’s thoughts are.

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Kevin Lanahan

I’m an occasional teleworker (snow days, mostly). I have found that being around coworkers helps innovation and problem-solving. However, when I’m working on a focused task (like scripting), I need to be away from distractions. Working from home can reduce the distractions of phone, drop-by meetings, etc.

Given all the projects Yahoo! has, and how disconnected they seemed to be (I mean, does anyone call it “Flickr by Yahoo!?), I can see where bringing everyone into the office again can help them refocus, repurpose and get back on track. I would also expect that they will allow telecommuting again as things turn around.

Henry Brown

Have posted a related discussion which offers some different viewpoints…

the PBS debate seemed to indicate that innovation could be enhanced when NOT teleworking…

A Standford University Study attempted to quantify the increased productivity resulting from teleworking….

Yahoo released a statement indicating that perhaps this removal of teleworking probably should only have an impact on Yahoo

Robert Bird

I think she made the right move. What they were doing wasn’t working and they need to do something different. I believe you have to earn the privilage to work from home and I hope she allows her employees to earn that again.

David B. Grinberg

Steve, the Yahoo situation strikes me as an anomaly, especially for Silicon Valley of all places.

I think most folks are reading too much into this by over-focusing on telework without considering Mayer’s other possible larger motivations: showing strong-arm tactics, auditing the workforce, possibly restructuring, and — of course, the obvious — obtaining a ton of free media to get her struggling brand back in the national dialogue.

I predict that remote work will soon return to Yahoo, no doubt. I believe CEO Mayer is making a public statement not only to her employees, but to the rest of the high-tech world: there’s a new sherrif in town who is not afraid to shake things up — albeit temporarily.

Let’s also not forget the gender angle: female CEOs are still an overwhelming minority of the high-tech industry in general, and Corporate America and boards in particular. Thus Mayer needs Yahoo staff, stockholders, the high-tech world, and the public to perceive her as being a strong presence.

This may also be part of a workforce restructuring and re-evaluation at Yahoo — a workforce audit to further streamline operations and cut costs. However, if another one of Mayer’s goals is to draw global media attention to Yahoo and her management of the company thus far, then she has certainly succeeded.

Prior to her arrival, Yahoo was not in the media spotlight compared to Google and other competitors — it was all Google, all the time. That’s certainly changed, for now at least.

By obtaining this global press coverage, Mayer is putting the Yahoo name back in the news — which may boost brand recognition, site visitors, and perhaps even stock prices, etc.

You know that saying, the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.


Terrence (Terry) Hill

As Cali and Jody would say, “Who cares where workers are!” What is important are results. Honestly, I didn’t even know that Yahoo was still in existance, but if they want to thrive, they should focus on their products and services. They shouldn’t care about where, when, or how these results are produced. Organizations with strong measures of results and hold employees accountable for achieving results don’t worry about where or when these occur. We all need to focus on the work and not the people. Go ROWE!