March 7, 2013
Yahoo! And Best Buy Bring Employees Back To The Office
In the last week of February, Yahoo! announced that it would soon abolish its remote work program as redOrbit reported. This reveal came from a memo published on allthingsd.com. As the memo stated, “Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home…We need to be one Yahoo!, and that starts with physically being together.”
How interesting that in a time and age when many companies are incorporating more time to work from home that Yahoo!, a very tech savvy company by most accounts, has decided to bring its people in. CNN further reported about this, and one Mobile World Congress (MWC)—one of the planet’s biggest showcases of new digital technology—exhibitor, GENBAND, explained that Yahoo’s move was understandable but perhaps the real problems facing the company could be overcome with better technology.
GENBAND is just one of several companies that provides technology that companies can use to create remote working environments. Cisco is another such company that has products aimed directly at creating remote working environments. Both of these companies explain that intelligent communication’s tools like video conferencing, internet collaboration, and other technology can recreate real-life interaction with the exception of physical contact.
redOrbit reported about another company called TransparentBusiness. It also insisted that it could help manage the remote work environment, too. To quote redOrbit’s article: “Using TransparentBusiness.com your managers will be able to see in real-time and retroactively all work performed by your telecommuters and contractors, regardless of their location, and historically. Moreover, they will know the exact status and cost of every task and project. The resulting economic benefits to Yahoo! will be in tens of millions.”
Yahoo! is not alone in removing its at-home work policy. Best Buy, whose focus in technology is different from Yahoo! but with no less impact, also announced its end to the flexible work program that previously allowed for remote work. NPR reported that Best Buy’s hope is that the approach will lead to more and better collaboration.
On the one hand, both Yahoo! and Best Buy make sense. People work well when together. They feed off of each other’s ideas. Creativity blossoms in person more often than not.
However, people can easily get distracted when face-to-face. I know that is what happens to me. When I am in my office at my college, I can get almost no work done. Colleagues stop in to chit chat. Students come by with questions about their essays or projects. Supervisors drop reports and projects by for me. All of this happens on top of what I already have on my work plate.
When I work from home, though, I can better complete my current projects, grade my students’ essays, and even communicate via email and telephone in a more productive manner. I love being in the office amongst all the chaos and ingenuity sometimes, but I do not find myself being as productive and successful in my duties.
I do feel connected to my colleagues when I am at work, for sure, but I am often distracted by our interactions, though. The CNN article ended with a discussion about balance—encouraging coming into a physical office but also allowing flexible work. I think this is a good idea. I do not have physical classes on Fridays nor do I have physical offices hours on Fridays. This allows me one day a week to possibly stay home and just work. The other four I teach and have office hours and meetings, which allows me interactive, face-to-face communication. This balance works for me. I am sure other companies will figure out the balances that work best for them, too.
Image Credit: Photos.com