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March 8, 2013

There is much discussion in HR  circles regarding  Chief Marissa Mayer’s recent decision to  rescind telecommuting as an option at Yahoo.  This begs the question,  are office employees more engaged and productive?

I work from home when  I do not  have scheduled meetings in the office or out of the office at client sites.  For me a home office day means no time commuting and no time getting spiffed-up to go to the office.  In  that saved time I can go to the gym and maybe even take the dog for a quick walk.  I also do not get distracted by office cooler chat, meetings that are sometimes a time waster, or people coming in to my office and not leaving when I am trying to work.  So more of my time is actually spent doing work. The downside is that there is no built-in time for collaboration with colleagues.

I also have the flexibility to take care of the other work, as I define it, in my life. I can do laundry and let in the repair and maintenance people during normal working hours.  Of course, we can argue that those things are also a distraction from “job”  work.

We know that for GenXers,  flexibility and telecommuting options are valued. Not to mention that for the past twenty years tech companies have offered, and sometimes required their techie and sales employees to telecommute.

Are those who telecommute fat and lazy?  Do managers really not know what their telecommuters are doing?  Is that a function of  some managers perhaps, or of the essence of telecommuting? Does it really make any difference at all in work productivity, but is meaningful in recruiting efforts?

At home you can work within your own circadian rhythm, and not force yourself to work when you really need to rest, a philosophy that does not work when it comes to most work environments.  You can work according to your own biological clock.

It will cost Yahoo lots of time, money and effort to get people back to the office.  Think  of the build-outs and new technology that need to be installed.  What about the  new technology glitches and  subsequent stress?

Fast forward two years.  Will the Yahoo experiment work to make the company more successful?



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