Yahoo Has it Wrong: Showing Up Is More than Physically Being There

New Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has stirred up controversy with her edict that all Yahoo employees need to physically show up and be in the office. No more telecommuting for Yahoo. Remote employees? You’re likely out of luck. What’s next? Attendance sheets like in elementary school?

While I understand the need to shake things up at a company that is trying hard to reinvent itself, in this case Mayer is missing the boat.

Here’s why:

  • Interestingly, it’s the technology that Yahoo helped champion in its glory days–the Web, email, even social media–that allows increased productivity for those who aren’t subject to travel to/from and within the office.
  • Yes, there’s more of a chance that people will have informal
    interactions when they’re physically in the office. But there’s also
    more of a chance of long, extended meetings for meetings sake, people
    closing themselves up in their cubes and ignoring their neighbors, and
    lots of other non-useful behavior.
  • It’s disturbing to see a movement back to equating butts in seats as the metric for how well an organization is doing. If we have information workers who are mature and responsible for their own careers and workload, why does it matter where they are located? And if there are workers who use telecommuting as an excuse to not get their work done, they should be fired. What makes you think the slackers will be any more productive *in* the office anyway?

Value your employees. Give them something they can rally around and feel part of that’s important. Make them feel like showing up with their best game matters–regardless of their physical location. Make them feel like what they do matters–it’s whether the heart and the brain are engaged, not where the body resides that makes a difference.

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