Does working from home fragment a team?

The CEO of Yahoo, Marissa Mayer, was outed today by Kara Swisher at AllthingsD for wanting Yahoo employees to be present. According to Swisher an internal memo that Mayer sent to employees apprising them of a change in their work from home policy, basically it will be a thing of the past starting in June 2013, was leaked by less than ecstatic employees.

In the memo Mayer stresses productivity, company culture, communication, and collaboration as the driving forces behind this new push for workers to come to work.

[blockquote style=”normal”]To become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side. That is why it is critical that we are all present in our offices. Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings. Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home. We need to be one Yahoo!, and that starts with physically being together.[/blockquote]

You can read the full memo here at AllthingsD

Is telling your workforce that they must come to work really that bad?

Well I guess it depends on where you sit. Are you an executive who needs better productivity, creativity, and accountability or are you an employee who wants a flexible work environment? I wouldn’t think that these two things are mutually exclusive but would Yahoo be doing this if their work from home policy was working?

Yahoo has been struggling for a while now, they have lost significant ground to their competitors and don’t seem to have anything in the works that would bring them back to the forefront. In technology if you aren’t innovating you are fading.

When do you ask your employees for feedback and when do you just tell them this is what we are going to do?

There is no company too big to fail. Do the Yahoo employees just not realize what dire straits the company is in or is it that the decision has been made and they weren’t brought into the conversation.

It would seem that springing a big work environment change like this on your employees is not  the best way to make them feel like they are part of something. In the memo Mayer says [blockquote style=”normal”]we want everyone to participate in our culture and contribute to the positive momentum[/blockquote]  while this is a great sentiment, through her actions Mayer belies the validity of this kumbaya workforce.

How could it have been done better?

Personally I agree with Marissa Mayer, I have found in my own company that when people work from home all the time creativity and growth suffer. There is something that happens when people get together face-to-face, ideas are shared, hurtles are overcome, and momentum builds. A business needs some in-person interaction time to create that collaborative spark that has been known to fuel big things.

Where I don’t agree with Mayer is on taking away the work from home option entirely. Working in an office can be distracting. A change of scenery, a quiet environment where no one can pop in to chat, or just a place where you don’t have to spend time getting ready or driving to can help you implement the ideas and initiatives you came up with during your collaboration time.


What do you think?




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