In July 2012, Marissa Mayer was lured away from Google to re-energize Yahoo. Shortly after being hired, she said, "I want Yahoo to be the absolute best place to work, to have a fantastic culture. We're working really hard right now to remind people about all of the opportunities that are there."
That was then, when working from home was a perk for many employees, and this is now. Mayer has notified an unspecified number of Yahoo staff that they will need to report for work to local offices. Gasp! And even though there is a preponderance of articles about the wisdom of this decision, I can see lots of reasons why, for certain positions, this is the best course of action.
In a recent Daily Mail article, genius businessman Richard Branson said, "This seems a backwards step in an age when remote working is easier and more effective than ever." And our own local genius/Tribeca Flashpoint Academy founder, Howard Tullman, said, "I think that we are heading more and more toward what we call the 'porous' workplace which means that people will be coming together and working together virtually regardless of where they are located. You won’t even know whether the person is next door or in the Netherlands in a pretty short time. She’s trying to turn back the tide and it’s not going to be good for her or anyone else there."
We've all been on conference calls with children crying, doors slamming, dogs barking, doorbells ringing and even toilets flushing so, in some ways, going into the office seems like the better choice. But some jobs are done better if people can interact in person. Creative ideas need a group atmosphere so you can bounce them off of each other, read body language and see how fully committed someone is to a certain course of action. I think eye-to-eye contact is critical in a creative environment but, on the other hand, I would guess that technical jobs wouldn't need such a personal touch and it wouldn't matter if these employees worked from home or not.
And, of course, it's easier to work from home. Some statistics show that people who do are more productive, happier, stay with the company longer and work harder. But I know this isn't always the case. There are distractions at home that sometimes keep you from concentrating. There's that new magazine that beckons or it's a sunny day and you're a golfer. I could go on and on. BUT, who's to say that office workers don't waste time, too? Name one person you know who works in an office and doesn't waste one moment of his day on something personal. (Why is Facebook so active in the afternoons? I wonder......) So, I don't think it's a matter of the work space dictating the quality of the job being done but, rather the worker himself.
So if this latest move by Mayer tends to separate the "wheat from the chaff," then just maybe she's onto something.....I sure would miss my fuzzy slippers, though.....