Office worker in cubicle – Photo courtesy of redteam
As if to hasten its long demise, Yahoo! Inc has initiated a policy to force all of its employees to commute to the office each day. There is some irony in this policy; perhaps Yahoo! is reminiscing on its former glory days and decided to initiate a policy reminiscent of decades-old-thinking.
This is an unfortunate policy on many levels. The world has changed, and information workers are no longer “9-5” office workers. With technology, people are often connected 24/7 and while working in an office setting might be productive and rewarding for some employees, it is stifling for others.
Lloyd Alter explains on Treehugger:
As studies have shown, some people are more productive at home; others need the office, being around other people. Some companies thrive on “hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings” ; others just want to get their work done. What works for some people doesn’t for the others.
For myself personally, telecommuting enabled me to live in China for four months last year while still working my same job. I can live anywhere in the world and continue earning a living as a technology consultant, as long as I have an Internet connection.
Instead of taking a two week holiday each year, I can take 3 or 4 months of “work vacation” where I visit a new country and work at the same time as I explore.
With this type of working arrangement, my office can take various forms. One day it might be my desk at home, another it might be a picnic table in the park, a patio of a cafe, a client office or a coffee shop. I like the variety, and this motivates me and boosts my performance.
I also enjoy flexibility in my day. If I want to take an hour out of my day to post a blog article or do an interview, I want to be able to do that. Some things can’t wait until the evenings.
But on those days where I do personal things during the day, I’m happy to work at night to make sure my work gets done. Some of my most productive, uninterrupted work happens in the evenings after my daughter goes to bed.
Virgin CEO Richard Branson sums it nicely:
Yours truly has never worked out of an office, and never will.
If you provide the right technology to keep in touch, maintain regular communication and get the right balance between remote and office working, people will be motivated to work responsibly, quickly and with high quality.
Working life isn’t 9-5 any more. The world is connected. Companies that do not embrace this are missing a trick.
Working from home can also have a significant impact on improving our cities by reducing traffic congestion, pollution, and overcrowding on public transit.
Yahoo!’s lack of flexibility on this matter is a mistake and they risk losing top talent if they aren’t willing to be flexible with those employees who are motivated by hybrid working arrangements.