I can almost bet that there was no jumping for joy and cries of “Yahoo!” (no pun intended) late last week at the tech giant’s headquarters when company CEO Marissa Mayer announced that she plans to implement a no-work-from-home policy, beginning this June.
According to various news reports, the new policy will not only forbid occasional telecommuters from utilizing their home offices, but those who currently have arrangements to work at home regularly will now, according to Mayer, be expected to make the trek into the office each day. And the company is not expecting to extend leniency to those who might have just cause to stay at home. One news report via Web site AllThingsD.com, stated that Yahoo “employees who work from home must comply without exception or quit.”
As someone who makes a living via working out of her home office, I was honestly appalled by this decision. I voiced my displeasure on my Facebook page, sharing an article on this subject in which I stated: “This is bad for business, bad for morale, and promotes an unhealthy work-life balance.” I mean for instance, what if you have the cable guy coming by your house to make repairs, or you have to take a sick child to a doctor’s appointment? I guess in Yahoo’s world, you now have to take a personal or vacation day (or call out sick) if your “life happens.”
I honestly feel this is a move that will promote counter-productivity. In the “old days,” before there was such a term as “telecommute,” when you called out sick, it was assumed you stayed in bed all day and watched game shows, talk shows and soap operas, in between naps and shots of Nyquil. However, now, if someone calls out sick, and it is assumed that if he or she is coherent enough to get out of bed, they still have the ability to check emails and get a few easy tasks accomplished while typing on their laptop via their desk or bed.
I once had a temp job several years ago in which the editor did not, by under any circumstances, want any employee to come into the office if they were sick, even if it was just a cold. I can understand this, since she probably didn’t want the whole office to then become infested with germs. If I were the CEO of Yahoo, I would rather have my employees well, and the sick ones stay home; this way, everyone else on my team can stay healthy and productive.
Aside from the personal effects of this decision, I also wondered why a supposed “forward-thinking company” such as Yahoo would promote an action that is counter-active of the whole BYOD and mobility trend? What about all of the road warriors that work for Yahoo? Will they lose their jobs if they don’t comply?
As it relates to the subject of the trends of mobility and BYOD, I spoke to one of our analyst friends who covers this topic—Anurag Agrawal, CEO of Techaisle, to gain his thoughts on this decision. “In today’s business world where telecommuting is a norm, mobility is pervasive and working from home perk gets the best workers, Yahoo’s announcement is a throwback to the eighties when water-cooler conversations and ad hoc strolls round the block fostered collaboration and germinated office politics,” Agrawal said. “The announcement is also a testament to the fact that for some, enterprises remote collaboration is not fast, nimble and intimate enough to pivot new strategies and growth. Yahoo’s CEO’s directive is a way to shock the system into a wake up from its stupor and turn the spotlight on Yahoo’s employees.
Aside from the internal effects of this announcement, Agrawal added that the statistics show that mobility and BYOD (not inter-office water-cooler chatter) are the way that industries are changing when it comes today’s workforce. However, he did also mention that there is truth to the fact that telecommuting employees tend to put in more time. “There are too many statistics that show telecommuting employees are more productive and happier, but then they also work longer hours than their office-goer counterparts,” Agrawal said.
Agrawal added that this latest decision by Yahoo is something that will likely last on a long-term basis…there will just be too much backlash, and perhaps a Yahoo employee coup?? “It is my belief that the strategy will be short term,” he said. Once Yahoo rights its ship, it will move ahead with a telecommuting policy that would be innovative for both the organization and the employees. But for now there will be upheaval, heartburn and head-scratching.