So someone asked me the other day about Yahoo recently putting the kabosh on telecommuting (employees who work from home) and what I thought of it.
As an armchair quarterback, my personal opinion is that generally-speaking, I think it’s a dumb move. Study after study show that productivity and morale are boosted in all kind of ways by allowing employees to work from home.
Yahoo is only putting a Bandaid on their telecommuting problems by elminating it. And that’s because the problems they are having are not a failure of telecommuting itself, but with the deeper underlying issues in corporate culture, values and management.
If employees don’t care about the company or their work at home, sitting them in an office isn’t going to change that.
I can see all kinds of opportunities for Yahoo to make make telecommuting work for them and not throw the baby out with the bath water:
- Hiring better.
- Having in-person get-togethers and meetings throughout the year.
- Making better use of technology and incorporating video conferencing so there is more group interaction and collaboration.
- Oh, and here’s a big one… how about giving a shit about the people and placing importance on the work they do and helping them understand the import and value of that work. I’m willing to bet that there is at least some faction of their telecommuting workforce they view as “lower-level” and were simply relegating them to telecommuting status to cheap out and save a buck. And when that is the underlying motivation, the employees absolutely know at some level they are not valued. So why should they give flying f**k? Loyalty goes both ways. And loyalty, interest and caring aren’t things that can be bought with a paycheck.
- How about ASKING employees what they value most about a job, what motivates them, and what would help them find more passion, purpose and meaning in their work and being with the company?
- Give employees the forum to address the issue and come up with solutions. I can just about guarantee they come up with far more creative solutions and ideas!
That’s just the tip of the iceberg. There is all kinds of possibility for innovation if they could just shuck their antiquated, old-school employer mentality.
To be clear, I don’t really care about the topic all that much because it’s one of employers and employees. As a business owner (and not a telecommuting employee), it doesn’t have anything to do with me or my clients so I really don’t waste precious time and mental energy worrying about it.
However, I did come across an article on the topic that said something that was interesting to me:
The value in human interaction is greater collective wisdom as a result of improved communication and collaboration.
So, here is my question to you:
With all the technology and resources available to us in this day and age (forums, listservs, group chats, video conferencing, etc.) do you think we as independent professionals who run our businesses remotely lack in any ability to engage in human interaction and nurture greater collective wisdom, communication and collaboration?
Let us know what you think in the comments.