You may have heard in the news this past week about Yahoo’s new CEO Marissa Mayer and her no work-at-home policy. She helped usher Yahoo back into the stone age when they made it clear that any Yahoo employee that currently works from home has until June to report to an office to work or look for work elsewhere.
According to an internal memo Yahoo believes:
“To become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side. That is why it is critical that we are all present in our offices. Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings. Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home.”
While I agree it’s helpful to work side-by-side with coworkers, this decision reaks of the knee-jerk, backward, “can’t do” thinking I see so many companies suffer from. They’re struggling with virtual teamwork and remote collaboration so they think they should just scrap the whole thing.
As a consultant helping companies make the shift to The Anywhere Office®, I can tell you first hand that virtual teams can be MORE effective and productive than co-located teams when instituted properly, and that “speed and quality” can be unsurpassed. But it doesn’t happen by accident; it requires a strategy and training.
When I consult with companies I walk them through a process to take a step back and define team and communication guideline. We also take a look at what kind of tools they have in place already, to determine if they are the right tools, and if they are being thoughtfully applied. Even these simple exercises have helped teams transform into lean, mean collaborating machines.
The punchline of the Yahoo situation is that Ms. Mayer talks about wanting the company to be the “best place to work,” but in the same breathe she announces they are taking away the ability to have a flexible work agreement. Workplace flexibility is highly valued by today’s smart young professionals; closing the door on it at Yahoo will ensure the best and brightest will look for work elsewhere. And don’t even get me started on the litany of other benefits virtual work provides: increased productivity, cost savings, environmental benefits, disaster preparedness….
I should be thanking Yahoo’s new CEO
In an interesting article I read in Fast Company they explained why Marissa Mayer and Yahoo actually did us a big favor:
“Over the years, I’ve seen many leaders and organizations follow the same path even though employees value the ability to work remotely, and there’s a solid argument that telework actually benefits the business.The difference is that those leaders don’t have a high profile and aren’t under the same public scrutiny as Mayer; therefore, their decisions go unnoticed and unchallenged. Rather than singling out and criticizing Mayer, we should thank her for raising the veil. Yahoo’s decision gives us the opportunity to expose and challenge the misguided, faulty reasoning many leaders follow when they decide to revoke their support for flexible work.”
That’s a very valid point and I’m delighted that the decision has generated so much discussion about telework, remote collaboration, and virtual leadership. The thing that really strikes me is Mayer’s claim they need to have everyone in the same physical location to communicate and collaborate effectively – this coming from a technology leader that produces a number of tools (such as mail, calendar,Yahoo Messenger, Yahoo Groups, etc.) that are designed to help people work together regardless of time or distance! Read more
In this informative article technology expert Midori Connolly shares her top picks for tools to improve virtual team productivity. Connolly specializes in providing end-to-end hybrid meeting design, strategic planning, and technological execution. Here she shares some key collaboration and scheduling tools useful for working with distributed teams.
This article gives some real world advice specifically about how to motivate employees and recognize accomplishments in virtual teams
“As more companies expand globally, telecommuting is becoming a common work arrangement for many employees,” said Dr. Paul Eccher, author and co-founder of The Vaya Group. “However, just because these workers are out of sight does not mean they should be kept out of the loop. Leaders must learn how to effectively manage virtual teams in order to improve the bottom line and sustain talent over time.”
“Through our research and work within Fortune 500 companies, we’ve discovered that only 21 percent of leaders excel at motivating their teams,” Eccher’s partner Dave Ross said, “With these simple tips, leaders can build camaraderie, create a more positive work environment and encourage stronger business performance, regardless of distance.”
The Vaya Group recommends the following tips for motivating virtual teams:
Do you have a messy, disorganized and cluttered workspace? If so then I have great news for you – your solution is at hand thanks to an eBook titled How to Design the ULTIMATE Home Office and it’s sure to help you whip your office into shape!
This book was written by Hassan Osman who writes a blog called TheCouchManager.com about working remotely. Being we share a passion for mobile work he sent me a copy of his book to review and I was very impressed with his approach and envious of the photos of his very organized home office.
He normally sells this book for $19.95 but he generously offered to make it available free for one week to members of The Anywhere Office tribe.
How to Design the ULTIMATE Home Office is a downloadable ebook that will help you transform your home office into a highly efficient space. It contains over 40 pictures that show you what organizers and tools to use and where to best position them for maximum impact.
Here’s what you’ll learn:
- Where to put all that clutter that’s been lingering around
- What types of budget-friendly organizers to use for your reference files and documents
- How to position everything on your desk to save you time and increase your productivity
- Examples of applying the GTD principles on organizing all your “offline” stuff
To get your free copy visit this link and sign up for his “Managing Virtual Teams” newsletter and you’ll receive 2 FREE ebooks:
- “How To Design the ULTIMATE Home Office” ($19.95 value) – a GTD-friendly guide with over 40 pictures that will help you clear up your office clutter and create a more productive workspace
- “Time Zone Meeting Coordination in 7 Easy Steps” – a free guide that will help you schedule virtual team meetings across different time zones without losing your hair (includes a downloadable Excel spreadsheet)
This is a limited-time offer exclusively for The Anywhere Office tribe, so make sure you sign up and download the books before Friday, Aug 17 at 9pm PST!
This article explores challenges facing leadership of distributed, multinational, multi-generational business teams in the 21st Century – particularly about how to appropriately recognize team members. The thoughtful argument concludes with a prescription for redefining both the style and mode of employee recognition.
Redefine Recognition for the 21 st Century
Successful recognition in the 21 st Century is a strategic initiative with actionable objectives and measurable results that weaves appreciation into the fabric of a company’s culture. These programs are based on the company’s values to convey the company’s critical messages and a consistency of purpose worldwide. Strategic recognition is frequent and timely to meet GenX and GenY needs while avoiding the micro-management pitfalls abhorrent to the Silents and Boomers. Well executed recognition is available to all, equally. These four facets of strategic recognition address the unique engagement needs of the multi-generational and multicultural workforce.
It’s clear that the strategies and tools that comprise The Anywhere Office could be instrumental in filling this prescription.