Yahoo! and the Robot (not Remote) Employee

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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?

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