This week Yahoo announced they’re canceling all telecommuting (working from home) time for employees. The idea, according to their spokesman, is to make their company more “fun” and to make work more collaborative and efficient. My guess is that the result won’t be an increase in collaboration, efficiency, or fun, but rather in disgruntled and unhappy employees. Here’s why.
Why Telecommuting /Working from Home Is More Efficient
Many, many years ago, when I worked in a corporate setting, my day often included frequent interruptions. These interruptions included coworkers stopping by my cubicle or office to ask questions that would’ve been answered more quickly and efficiently by email, a stupifying number of male coworkers who insisted upon clipping their nails at their desks, and meetings that were largely unnecessary and took up way too much of my time that would’ve been better spent actually doing work, rather than talking about it.
As a business owner who works from a home office, however, interruptions are a rare occurrence. My husband and I both work from home, but take care not to disturb or distract one other. He certainly wouldn’t sit outside my office, clipping his nails. And any meetings that I schedule are few and far between, and always absolutely necessary. As a result, I get much more accomplished working from home than I ever did, working in the corporate environment. And I can get a few loads of laundry done while I’m doing it.
Why Telecommuting /Working from Home is Equally Collaborative
Studies have shown that group brainstorming is rarely effective or useful. Fewer ideas are generated, bad ideas get promoted and expanded via “groupthink” and generally speaking, it’s just a bad, bad idea. So fostering collaboration through group brainstorming is a no-no. But collaboration, that’s a slightly different animal, isn’t it?
The thing about collaboration is that it typically gets initiated by department heads anyway. It’s not something that employees do on their own. Employees don’t come to work one day and say, “Hey, let’s collaborate with that department over there.” Instead, department heads tell workers that they’re going to collaborate on a project and then tell them how to do it.
I’ve worked with companies to improve collaboration among departments and I can tell you that working in the same space doesn’t have a lot to do with it. Yes, face time matters, but you can have face time virtually…that’s why there’s an actual software application that’s called “FaceTime.” The same conversations occur, via email, via video conference, and collaboration tools.
Why Telecommuting /Working from Home is More Fun
One of the reasons I work from home is that it’s way more fun! I can wear blue jeans or pajama pants, I can take periodic breaks to have lunch with my husband, to meditate, or to play with my hamster, and generally, I’m just more relaxed than I would ever be in an office.
When we were traveling for the holidays and I worked out of the Business in Blue Jeans South America offices, I was pretty miserable. The office was gorgeous and had the most amazing view. But it was still an office and I realized that I’m not longer made for working in an office. I love my creature comforts. At home, I have my entire business and marketing library at my disposal, and I can schedule a spa appointment whenever I want. What’s more fun than that?
Telecommuting /Working from Home is Just Better
If I’m more relaxed and comfortable, I’m more productive. Most of my telecommuting and working from home colleagues agree. I’m able to be more efficient in my life and in my work and everything works better. I’ll never get sick because someone at work had a cold, like I did countless times working in an office setting. And when we have children, we’ll never have to put them in day care or hire a nanny to raise them, and our family will be stronger as a result.
So, I say Yahoo made a big mistake in canceling telecommuting. Their employees aren’t going to be nearly as productive or happy as they once were, and I think we can expect to see a bunch of them jumping ship in the near future…or maybe not, because jobs in general are harder to come by these days. What are your thoughts? Was Yahoo right or wrong to cancel telecommuting?