The Boss Show

Workplace wisdom with heart and humor

March 1, 2013

Yahoo! Now They Get To Work At The Office!

By Jim Hessler

My biz partner Steve also posted on the Yahoo telecommuting ban – see his post above.  And we recorded a special, virtual, telecommuted edition of The Boss Show that you can listen to here.

Marissa Mayer has rocked the working world by announcing an upcoming policy change that will require at-home Yahoo workers to start working at the office.

I guess everyone now wants to express their opinion on the benefits and deficits of having an at-home workforce, and I’d love to be able to express a colorful opinion on this, but in the most vanilla way possible I have to respond by saying “it depends.”

I’m sure there are situations where this practice is working well. Apparently it’s not working at Yahoo, and in that sense I admire Mayer’s courage in leading change. But I would love to know what her level of understanding was before she made this decision. What do we really know, as employers and as employees, about the implications of working from home, disconnected physically from our team?

I’m a culture guy. I think the health of an organization rests on the quality of the relationships in that organization. Are these relationships challenging, stimulating, creative, high in trust, and high in accountability? How important is our physical presence in making these kinds of relationships possible? My impression is that something very important is lost when the majority of our communication is digital.

But I also love the idea of working at home and I’m doing it right now as I write this blog. And, I’m not clogging up a freeway or burning fossil fuel walking from my bedroom to my office. But what might I be missing? What hallway conversation, what visual cue, what opportunity to energize or connect might I have missed today?

So I ask myself, when working from home, can I get the work done? The answer for me is a resounding yes. But can I get the work done? I’m not so sure about that.

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About the Author

Jim Hessler bootstrapped his way from retail work into a successful career as salesman, sales manager, Fortune 500 executive, and corporate turnaround engineer. Along the way, he developed The Leadership Platform, a proven model for training managers to become sustainably better leaders. It became the basis of his leadership primer, Land On Your Feet, Not On Your Face: A Guild to Building Your Leadership Platform. Jim is the founder of Path Forward Leadership Development Services.

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