Let’s All Telecommute Together
I admit it. I’m an avowed home worker. I love my non-commute, video conferencing, casual dress code, and occasional power lunch dates with my one-year old.
Did you know that there are 30 million of us who work from home at least one day a week? That probably explains all of the frothing fervor that was stirred up in the wake of Marissa Mayer‘s decision to end the long term telecommuting program at Yahoo!. A huge number of people got online to tell the world, “we’re home and we like it. It’s too late to turn back now.”
Is calling everyone back to campus the answer for Yahoo!? Ms. Mayer thinks it is, the rest of us will have to wait and see. In the end, the actual policy isn’t quite as draconian as the internet first thought. They’re not talking about keeping employees from staying home for cable guys or sick kids; for the Yahoo!s, it’s about rebuilding their corporate community, in person. Now, you may agree there are some 21st-century ways to do that, but it’s hard to argue that the traditional way of throwing everyone in a room together doesn’t still work. Hey, face to face isn’t old fashioned, it’s old school.
So why not a bit of both? At LiquidSpace, we operate under a hybrid. It’s a distributed model where we all work from home, and at least once a week, those of us in the Bay Area get together to cowork downtown, usually at NextSpace Union Square. Meeting up is great for work summits, information exchanges, and just regular old interpersonal catch up, then the rest of the week we stay in regular contact via emails, screen shares and video conferencing.
Did I say both? I meant all three–your home, your office, and some place altogether different. These days it’s also easy to find a third place to get work done. I often choose the coworking community at Makeshift Society when I want to get out of the house and i’m not working with my LiquidSpace colleagues. Mixing it up with people from other companies and industries is a great way gain new perspective and foster serendipity.
If the recent rumbling from remote workers over the Yahoo! decision is any indication, telecommuting isn’t going away anytime soon. Work-from-home programs increase employee job satisfaction and retention while reducing overhead on workspace costs for businesses. Advances in computing and communication technology mean workers can stay connected and productive anywhere.
The sea-change in the workplace model has already happened. The companies that embrace it and find the right balance of traditional and new-world work styles will thrive. Best of luck to the Yahoo!s, I hope they find their way.