I don’t work for Yahoo. I do work for a Fortune 500 technology company and it’s a job that I like. I complain about my job from time to time, but earlier today my supervisor told me that I was a valued employee and I responded that I love what I do. And that’s true. I have a good gig.
One of the many reasons I love my job is because I have the flexibility of working from home three days a week. I love this benefit and it has boosted my productivity considerably. I’ve always been a loner. I work best when I’m in my own little zone with minimal distractions. I’m not much for water cooler chatter and I’m easily thrown off my game with what I call “fly-bys”: people stopping by to ask a question or tell me a quick anecdote or something like that.
Another plus is that there are times when I feel my most creative at 3 a.m. Because I have a home office setup with all my work goodies in its own little office space, I am able to go downstairs and start writing code any time I feel the urge to. And because my company has excellent collaborative tools (phones, IM, webcams and the like), I still feel part of the team that I work with. While next week I will be meeting several of my teammates face to face for the first time, the truth of the matter is I feel like I already know them. And while I think we’ll work together even better when we all meet each other in person, I think I’m part of a really good team now. Our collaborative tools give us the opportunity to brainstorm and be the team that we are.
Marissa Mayer, the CEO of Yahoo (the sixth CEO of Yahoo in six years, I may add), announced a ban on telecommuting for all Yahoo! employees. To foster teamwork and improve productivity, come June, all Yahoo employees must work from the office. “Shoulder to shoulder. Brainstorming. Creative collaboration!” All of this can only be accomplished in person at Yahoo, apparently. Perhaps they’ve never heard of Yahoo! Messenger. Perhaps they have and have finally given up the ghost of using it for anything productive.
I don’t know about other telecommuters, but when I’m working from home I’m focused on my productivity. I know that working from home is a privilege and I’m not going to compromise that privilege by slacking off. I’m focused on getting stuff done. When I work from my office, I’m focused on the number of hours I work. And the number of hours I would spend commuting. And the price of gas. And where I’m going to go for lunch.
Not all jobs lend themselves to telecommuting opportunities. But many positions in the telecommunications and technology sector do; heck, we make the tools so that others can telecommute! And doesn’t Yahoo sell services for telecommuting purposes? I think this speaks to the quality of Yahoo’s products if they can’t even effectively telecommute using their own products and platforms.
We often hear about green companies and ways of scaling back on the damage that we are doing to the environment. Telecommuting actually helps with this; there’s simply not as many vehicles on the road burning up gas just so people can get to the office. As a productive, happy and proactive telecommuter in a team environment, I am lending my talents to making great things happen at the company I work for. I feel like we are soundly in the 21st century and I want to do what I can to make that experience better.
If I worked at the office five days a week, eight hours a day, it’d be just another job.
Perhaps Yahoo just wants to be another mediocre technology company. With decisions such as Marissa Mayer’s telecommuting ban, it seems like they’re headed in the right direction for that.
And that direction would be backwards. I’m happy that I work in a company with forward motion. I look forward to contributing to that motion by working where I work best.
And sometimes, that happens to be at home.