Working from Home. How Can You Build a Team When Half the Players Don’t Show Up?

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Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has muddied the workplace recently with her announcement that all 12,000 staff members must work in the office.  Several former and current employees along with the blogosphere and media commentators are wondering if she’s shaking up the company by ending any suspected slacking off at home or if this is just a strategic plan to downsize by getting people to quit without laying them off. Commentary by Pamela Hulse Andrews

We would like to give Mayer (who is the struggling company’s fifth CEO in five years, and  the youngest head of a Fortune 500 company in America), the benefit of the doubt and that she knows more about Yahoo and its culture than we do. We also believe that employees are more motivated and company-oriented if they’re in the office.

Telecommuting became very popular several years ago when employers began to take a contemporary view of workplace flexibility. Those who wanted work from home were convinced that you could save time and money by staying at home and not having to trek yourself to work every day.

Advances in technology made it more convenient with enhanced internet connection speeds outside the office and improved software for teleconferencing. Working from home took off and jumped 73 percent between 2005 and 2011 according to research by Telework Research Network.

Telecommuting certainly has its pros especially for the worker who doesn’t have to get dressed to go to work and who can begin work at their leisure and work their own hours. For the company they usually don’t have to worry about sick leave or employees wasting time on travel and energy consumption — as long as they fulfill their job duties. Sometimes they’re getting highly qualified employees who might not work for them if they couldn’t work from home.

But times change and too much away time can decrease efficiency. Some managers are deciding that they’re losing productivity and want to get a handle on their employee’s time. Studies now show that face-to-face communication, friendships and social interaction at work make people more productive and happier.

Generally speaking our company over the last twenty years has not looked favorably on telecommuting. In our business we believe that team work and direct communication is essential to an effective and productive work environment. There’s a lot of laughter and interaction that goes on inside our company and we believe this forthcoming and collaborative atmosphere has seen us through some challenging economic times.

Still, when you have a really good employee and they are confronted with circumstances where they need to work from home, due to child care issues or physical limitations perhaps, it’s nice to have the flexibility of making a decision on a case by case basis.

The important factor to remember with the Yahoo decision is that this is this company’s policy for their current circumstances, what is best for them right now and not an across the board affront to telecommuting. Yahoo’s young CEO took over a troubled company that appears to not have an effective and viable culture. Good for her for shaking it up. So can all the complainers get dressed and get to work please.

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CBN

Founded in 1994 by the late Pamela Hulse Andrews, Cascade Business News (CBN) became Central Oregon’s premier business publication. CascadeBusNews.com • CBN@CascadeBusNews.com

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