Yahoo! Telework, You're Doing It Wrong
Sunday, December 08, 2013
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Yahoo! Telework, You're Doing It Wrong


Since Yahoo CEO, Marissa Mayer, made news by recalling all of Yahoo’s telework force last Friday, it’s been interesting to see how most of the mainstream media is covering the story and how the general business public understands telework value.  Headlines include terms like “perk” and journalists are once again questioning whether telework improves productivity, whether quality of work suffers and if creativity is stifled in a remote environment.  Articles like this one, from an interview of a former Yahoo employee seem to paint remote work/telework as a breeding ground for "people slacking off like crazy, not being available, spending a lot of time on non-Yahoo! projects." My first thought after reading that? If that’s really the case, Yahoo!, you’re doing telework wrong, but there are better ways to fix this. As our friends at CultureRx responded, “Don’t send your employees back to the 1950s”.

For those of us who pay attention to the ever-changing landscape of the workplace, we’ve seen study after study that indicates the value of remote work/telework for the employer, employee, the environment and the community at large when it is done right.  Much like the idea that remote work/telework is a “perk” for employees, Yahoo’s decision to scrap their telework program altogether is based on outdated thinking and a lack of understanding on how to build a successful program. The mindset that “butts in seats” equates to productivity is just wrong.  In fact, many otherwise-productive previously-teleworking Yahoo employees will now be bitter at the prospect of being recalled and the distrust that apparently necessitated the decision. What Yahoo should do instead of scrapping the program is focus on developing a program that is results-focused (see ROWE) and provides the tools and technology that employees need to overcome obstacles to collaboration and communication without having to meet face-to-face. Believe it or not, there are solutions like this available, many of these experts and providers partner with Telework Advocacy. They support events like our annual Telework Summit and local micro-events to educate and empower advocates to overcome outdated assumptions and management fears.  After all, this isn’t the 1950s is it? The workplace has changed for the good since then.  Let’s keep moving forward.

Joshua Billington | General Manager | Telework Advocacy