Tag Archives: Yahoo!

Yahoo! and the Robot (not Remote) Employee


Wouldn't the world be a perfect place if we simply followed every talking head who pontificates on a subject (yours truly excluded…)?  Of course, the goal doesn't usually involve the content of the story, but to create a bait headline that'll compel a reader to click-through (the shortest way to accomplish this: make them angry).  And what a perfect subject to select for this purpose; Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer rescinds remote privileges!

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Then, the experts swoop in to tell us what she's really doing:

  1. Implementing a stealth layoff by pissing-off employees, who will then quit on their own,
  2. Discriminating against working moms (what about dads?),
  3. Taking us back to draconian times!

You get the idea…and you know what?  Every one of these claims might be true!  But, perhaps she is:

  1. Putting her arms around a human resources issue that's grown out of control,
  2. Fostering improved inter-company relations,
  3. Trying to better-assess a situation she can't see.

Mix & match as you like.  Does that mean I support the decision?  It's not about that.  I, like you, can easily cite detriments as well:

  1. More hours/dollars wasted on fuel, time and wear & tear sitting in traffic (I've been wondering whether the increase in traffic would actually be noticeable to outsiders),
  2. Less quality/leisure time with family, friends or hobbies,
  3. More pressure on significant other/spouse/parent to 'pick up the slack' of the Yahoo! employee (i.e. What I'm getting at is, suppose this particular employee is also a caregiver to an elderly parent; it ain't only about children, is it?)
  4. More pressure on single, unattached employee for similar reasons (there are only so many hours in the day for grocery shopping, errands and of course, appointments).
  5. Don't even get me started on morale…at least in the short term.
  6. Higher costs for Yahoo! as well; supporting all of these additional bodies on-site will have a marked effect on resources, such as electricity, maintenance, space allocation, furniture & supplies, etc.

I hate to quote Facebook, but:  It's complicated.

This is why it's extremely difficult to be a manager; too many cooks and Monday-morning quarterbacks.  My favorite is the propensity to quote studies about the benefits/detriments of working remotely.  You know what?  It's irrelevant except as it pertains to Yahoo!! (So, when I want to add a 'bang' to a sentence ending in the word "Yahoo!", is that how I do it?).

Of course, there is a place for statistics and studies as a general guide.  But what matters most is, how do these statistics and studies relate to the specific situation at Yahoo!?  There are a lot of factors involved, and I don't see too many of these articles wading very far into the weeds.

Last point; substitute any other name for Yahoo!  Same rules apply.

P.S.  I've included articles from people who do know the subject well – a lot better than I do, anyway (e.g. Richard Branson) but I think his particular comments answer his own concerns:

"To successfully work with other people, you have to trust each other. A
big part of this is trusting people to get their work done wherever they
are, without supervision
." [Italics added].

Two questions:

  1. Is it possible that Yahoo! harbors irrational mistrust of their employees?
  2. Is it possible that some employees have abused Yahoo!'s trust?

It could be one, both or neither.  I wonder how this will play out in the months leading up to implementation?  I wonder what things will look like six months after implementation?

Why #Smartphones & #Tablets Don’t Come with Seat Belts & Airbags

MP900308899This weekend, I was mulling over the question of how responsible we are – individually – for our online privacy.  That's not an easy question to answer on a global basis.  Coincidentally, I came across a couple of recent articles on the subject.  What makes them interesting – and perhaps a bit distinctive – is that each addresses how much fault should be apportioned to the end-user.

Information Week comes right out and says so in their article, "Google's Privacy Invasion: It's Your Fault".  The New York Times Bits Blog is more subtle in their take, "Disruptions: And the Privacy Gaps Just Keep On Coming."  At least they spread the blame around, somewhat.

I waded into the issue myself about three weeks ago with my, "Beware the Ides of Google" post, when I pointed out that these companies give us all this free stuff for a reason.

However, they don't exactly fall all over themselves to clearly explain to the general public why they give us all this free stuff, either.  I bet if I asked the average person, "How does Google (or Yahoo, or Facebook, or…) make money?", they wouldn't be able to articulate it very well (save for possibly being able to say that they make their money through 'advertising', whatever that means to them).  The better question to ponder is, how these companies use your information to make money.

Everyone's screaming for 'the government' to regulate these matters; and 'the government' has responded with clunky, well-meaning and/or self-serving attempts like SOPA.  No doubt, to a certain extent, the end-user is responsible for their own security, but I really like the way the NYT article attempts to equate the issue to how government, safety advocates (Ralph Nader, anyone?) and the general public drove (pun intended) the automobile industry toward seat belts, air bags and center tail lights.

I don't agree with it, but I really like it.

In my opinion, the reason this type of equivalency doesn't work is that the general public understood seat belts, air bags and tail lights.  They could easily envision a head-on collision (in fact, they didn't have to envision it, since car crashes are reported in gory detail nightly on the evening news).  On the other hand, they don't have a clue to life how their information is lifted from their devices and deposited in the hands of others; nor how, in a technical sense, to stop it.

In other words, the general public wants security protection, but they don't really know how to ask for it.  Even if they install software or hardware that tells them they're more secure, they have no idea how to confirm that it's true (and many times, it's not, either because the stuff just doesn't work, or through lack of understanding, they either fail to complete the set-up process or complete it incorrectly).  Ask me how many times I see unsecured wireless routers in range that are named LinkSys or Belkin.  The purchaser plugged the thing in and went on their merry way, oblivious to the fact that it must be configured.  But, they sleep better at night because they think they're secure.

To one extreme, the opinion is that the responsibility falls squarely on the end-user.  To the other, the opinion is that Google, Facebook, et al, are techno-heroin.  They hook the public, then when everyone's an addict, they siphon off private information.  When the public inevitably complains, they retort, "You don't like it?  Stop taking heroin!"

Maybe the solution is A.A. for the Internet…