Part of my job running the business operations side of a marketing firm is to help people be productive. One of our web developers has worked remotely for years. A designer recently went from working from home 40% of the time to 100% of the time. Both are productive, and I don’t have trouble reaching them during the day. We’re on IM and Google Hangout every day.
Apparently a number of Yahoo! employees had been abusing the work-from-home policy. Well then fire them. People goofing off all day is an accountability failure by front-line managers, not a company-wide HR problem.
I applaud Mayer for her efforts to revive a has-been Internet brand. And as CEO, it’s her prerogative to mandate a draconian HR policy at her own company. I’m not a Fortune 500 CEO but I bet you it’s going to hurt retention and recruiting. In-demand prospective employees have options. Yahoo! is throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
For the record, I prefer working in the office. Operations tends to be work better that way–whether it’s working on marketing projects or accessing QuickBooks over the network. I like being able to unplug by going home. I like being able to have a frictionless impromptu meeting. Remote collaboration isn’t as good as collaborating in person–but not so much that it counterbalances the other benefits, such that I’d recommend saying no one’s allowed to work from home.
When it comes to Yahoo! and to marketing firms like ours, the productivity solution is really about hiring responsible people who have a strong work ethic, trusting them to do the right thing, and then verifying (as needed) that you’re getting what you’re paying for.
As business managers, I believe it’s our job to maximize sustainable results. Maximize as in “as much as possible,” but sustainable as in “don’t burn people out while you’re doing it.” If someone is productive, let them be productive where they’re most productive. And if someone isn’t being productive, it’s time for you to have a candid chat about their performance, not to create a draconian HR policy that punishes both the innocent and the guilty.
Question: Do you think an HR policy banning remote workers is good, bad, or somewhere in between? You can leave a comment by clicking here.