As most of you have probably heard or read by now, Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer announced last Friday that, starting in June, all Yahoo! employees will be expected to work in a Yahoo! office. That means no more telecommuting – no more working from home, from a coffee shop, from the beach – everyone is expected to be present and accounted for on a daily basis in one of Yahoo!’s offices. In fact, the internal HR memo announcing the change even went so far as to seemingly hint that employees might want to find a way around occasionally having to work at home while waiting for the cable guy.
This announcement strikes me as particularly timely, given that due to a cold, a snowstorm and a sick kiddo, I’m currently on my fourth straight day of working from home. And I’m incredibly grateful for the ability to do so. Otherwise, I’d be down four personal days and overwhelmingly behind on my to-do list – or I’d be coughing and sneezing all over my colleagues.
I do see some of the merits Yahoo! is ostensibly trying to gain from having all employees at the office. The memo talks about the benefits of having serendipitous water cooler conversations or face-to-face chats with team members in the company cafeteria. It calls out communication and collaboration as two additional areas that are strengthened when people work side-by-side. Yes, I’ve benefited greatly from in-person meetings and brainstorm sessions where participants’ creative juices really get flowing – but I’ve also found phone calls, Skype and email to be great communication/collaboration tools as well.
And I have to question the claim that work speed and quality often go down when employees work from home. To be honest, I often find the exact opposite to be true. As much as I enjoy seeing and chatting with my co-workers, there are some days that I just need to buckle down with no distractions and get things done. I generally end up working from my home office those days, and I know many of my co-workers do the same.
In her article on the issue, The Washington Post’s Jena McGregor cites various studies that have shown working from home actually improves employee productivity, retention and morale, even when those working from home end up working more hours. And, at least for GroundFloor Media, this seems to ring true. Thanks in large part to our flexible model where people can work pretty much anytime, anywhere, as long as we get the job done, we have turnover rates that are way below the industry standard. And, we were just named one of the Best Places to Work in Denver for the 7th straight year by Denver Business Journal.
Of course, different models work may work better for different businesses. And perhaps “all hands on deck” is the right way to go for Yahoo! I, for one, am happy to have the ability to work from either of my “offices” (actual or home), depending on the needs of the day.
We’d like to hear your thoughts on the matter. Do you think telecommuting helps or harms workplace productivity?