YAHOO SAYS: You Can Work From Home - Until We Change Our Mind...
Are Motivational Posters in the Workplace Dead? If So, What's Next?

THE GREAT REMOTE WORKER DEBATE: The Only Two Things That Matter...

Yesterday, I posted on an internal memo at Yahoo sent to company employees about a new rule rolled out last week by CEO Marissa Mayer, which requires that Yahoo employees who work remotely relocate to company facilities.

Reaction on the web goes one of two ways: Best of both

1. You dummies don't understand that if you don't allow me to work from home, I actually work less once you factor in commute time, crappy meeting time, office politics time.  You should let me work from home.

2. Yahoo nailed it.  Too many slackers working from home don't give enough, aren't availalbe to collaborate, etc.  There's no replacement for being together.

Both reactions have truth in them.  Which means there are really only two things that matter when it comes to the debate of remote workers as it relates to the HR practice:

1.  You should be trying to find ways to make your location specific, "in the office" workers more productive.  Do they have protected time where they can really get away from meetings, people, etc to drive value?   We should be finding ways to bring the best elements of remote work to the office.

2.  You should be trying to make your remote workers more available in all ways to be part of teams, to collaborate and set the expectation that's a part of the role.  You should be thinking video in this regard - nothing holds a remote worker more accountable that being available for video calls.  Much harder to be disengaged if that's the case.

Seems like these two angles are what we should be focusing on related to the remote worker debate.  Best of one world transferred to the other.  Cats and Dogs living together.

What did I miss? 

Comments

Beth Wolfe

How sad is it that when I see "The Best of Both Worlds", I immediately start singing the Hannah Montana theme song in my head?

Audrey

If remote workers are not producing and not accessible, sounds like they shouldn't be counted on in or out of the office. I wouldn't want that kind of employ no matter where they sat each day in front of their work station. I have had a remote office for over 10 years. I schedule surgeries (including c-sec) around webinars and meetings/conferences, etc. I think I work a lot harder to keep the remote gig. It all depends on your work ethic: got one? If not, then don't let the door hit you on the way out - no matter what address, office or remote, the door is hinged.

Darcy

I think the real issue is managing results, not face time or lack thereof.

TimSackett

Hey KD,

Oh, wait a minute, it's Shannon on line 1 - Um, KD, look she feels Marissa is right, you need to start working FT out of HQ - see you soon.

Kinetix HR

MichelleRafter (@MichelleRafter)

I wrote about this in a story for Workforce last year. Emma, an email marketing firm in Nashville, goes to great lengths to make sure employees who work virtually feel as much a part of the company as headquarters staff. It takes planning, work and commitment from the top down, but they seem to be making it happen. They also paid for outside help to get where they are:

Cultivating a Virtual Culture
http://www.workforce.com/article/20120405/NEWS02/120409963/cultivating-a-virtual-culture

Stir in Your Own Ingredients to Create the Best Virtual Culture Recipe
http://www.workforce.com/article/20120405/NEWS02/120409964

Richard Morgan (r_morgan@myactv.net)

I suspect the real problem for management is accountability and productivity. If you're in a cubicle, people walking by keep you at least looking like you're working. Remote workers can be goofing off too much and no one will notice until a project comes in late. I suspect Yahoo will get some resignations from some of their best because of the cost of commuting. It's not just time and expense of commuting, but the cost and availability of desirable housing. I want to live out in the country, and most companies have headquarters in large cities.

Ryan Zupancic

I think Audrey already said it. Blanket policies do not substitute for managing people. I think HR is frequently afraid to tell the C-Suite what is required is more actual management.

Robert Hatta

I'm probably late to the party, but it's important to keep in mind that this is likely not a permanent policy shift for Yahoo!. Mayer is trying to change the culture, which I agree requires a complete reset. And that requires visibility and accountability. For the same reason it's hard to build a startup with a largely remote workforce when you're just starting to define your culture and strategy, proximity matters when you're trying to turnaround a struggling company.

Once they get everyone aligned (either through change or turnover), then I'd expect to see Yahoo! return to a more flexible policy on remote work.

Hope you're livin' well, KD.

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