working from home
The Yahoo! decision to end the policy of working from home has put a spotlight on the concept. As a result there are many interesting takes on the matter. One of them is a women’s rights issue. I am sure on that, it feels like a stretch. In the interest of equality in the workplace, I like to keep all employees on the same level. There are single dads too.
I fall squarely in the middle. I have worked remotely and I like it. Working from home can be good and bad. It is not for everyone. If you are a person who can set a task and get it done, then you are good. If you are a 20-something who thinks you can multi-task (watching SyFy channel, reading comic books and managing workload) thus not finishing what you need to get done, then no.
For the old school management style, I understand the insecurity of not having physical bodies present in one place for you to “manage” (keep an eye on) or bounce a quick question off of. This style of management is antiquated and seems better suited for a workforce that is less motivated, less educated, less self starting.
In a professional workforce, managers set goals and let the resources achieve. Obviously there are technologies needed to keep a remote workforce within communication (Instant Messaging, Cell Phones, Video conferencing). Not all companies have this ability (I argue that Yahoo! does). SideBar: I find it funny that if my IM is offline, the sender feels “they can’t get hold of me”. Uh, hello, email, call. We are not avatars.
I have worked remotely and found great benefits of doing so. I like the ability to focus on a single (or few) task(s) for a longer period of time without interruption (which sometimes means turning off the IM). I really like saving the time (and gas) commuting (and showering). I avoid the unnecessary kibitzing that often occurs in the office (note: this is also not all bad). I find the home work time productive, but I would not want work from home full time.
The downside of remote workers is a disconnection from the others. This is not always an element of all workplaces that is important. Some places of work require more interactive collaboration where others require heads down focus. For example, a team of software developers will need to sit in a room spitballing on a white board. An editor may need seclusion to read through manuscripts and take notes. My personal experience finds the need too queue up questions and get back to the office and have face to face meetings (PS. meetings are for collaboration and decision making, not announcements to the team).
I don’t know the full reason why Yahoo! decided to pull back workers. I suspect they feel their remote workers were not as productive . I feel bad for those productive remote employees who are being punished by the others. A blanket policy tends to crush the morale. We will only see if this was a good move.
I feel that a workplace can evaluate those worker roles suited for Working From Home and make a decision on a case by case basis. If you produce, it is a good policy. If you don’t, then get in the office or get out.
Good Luck Yahoo!
PS.S. It pisses me off how some people can’t communicate… like reply to email. Often times email is used to ask a question not requiring immediate response. I get peeved when no reply is ever received. Or how about people who email you and immediately walk to your desk with “I sent you and email”. I have ranted on this before. Here.