This week the major topic of conversation in my Twitter stream is CEO Marissa Mayer’s assertion that employees at Yahoo! would no longer be welcome to work remotely due to the fact that the practice is bad for productivity. The general consensus among those I follow ranges from outrage to disappointment.
As a person who once worked a full-time permanent position as a Content Editor from the comfort of my own home office, I have an opinion about Ms. Mayer’s decision: I think it’s silly. It’s silly to say that employees who are often more productive at home should now spend money out of pocket on travel expenses to get to work. It’s silly to assume that being present in a cubicle will make an employee more productive. And it’s silly to assume that an employee will be more engaged in his or her work simply due to physical proximity to colleagues and management.
I’d argue that working from home makes employees more engaged with their work. Photo credit: Monster College.
For the past two and a half years I’ve been teaching communications classes online while teaching various general education credits during the day in the classroom on campus. The debate over the merits of work-at-home employment arrangements was a timely one for me because I was presented last week with a choice: I would have to choose between teaching classes in person, on campus and teaching online. This, due to a rule that is still foggy to me, and is never very clearly explained by my employer.
In any event, I had to weigh up the choice. Would it be best for me to continue to drive to the college at my expense for gas, parking and commuting time, or would it be better to stay in the comfort of home, where I could schedule my time to interact with my students according to my own schedule? I think Marissa Mayers would say, without hesitation, that I should choose the option that would take me on campus regularly, where my students would benefit from the “speed and quality” of my presence at school. I think my online students would argue with her; I’m in contact with them on a daily basis and thanks to technology, as constantly available to them during business hours as I am to the students I meet in person.
In the end, I decided that I prefer my online teaching job. It allows me to do my work without spending any extra money to go to work, and I can really put my professional strengths such as communication, technology and time management to good use. There will be no more need to rush home from campus in another city in time to pick Nate up from daycare. There will be no more need to wake Nate up and get him to daycare early in the morning on those days I have an early class. The ability to juggle my home and family life with my professional aspirations makes me more appreciative, more engaged with the work I do from home.
I wonder what Marissa Mayers would say to that?
Do you agree or disagree with Ms. Mayers’ decision that employees are more productive when they work in the office? If you worked from home at Yahoo!, would you find a new work arrangement that would allow you to continue to work remotely, or would you head back to office life in a cubicle?