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 excellent Forbes article powerhouse body language expert and leadership communication coach Carol Kinsey Goman shares some expert advice about virtual collaboration.
Virtual collaboration holds amazing promise. When successful, it enables talented peers to work together regardless of location and organizations to mine the collective wisdom of a widely dispersed employee population. In order to tap into this potential, enterprises are increasingly using geographically distributed teams as a key part of their business strategy.
But virtual collaboration comes with its own unique challenges — especially for leaders whose previous experience has been mainly with collocated teams. Various studies have shown that it is more difficult to get virtual teams to bond, harder for informal leaders to emerge, tougher to create genuine dialogue, and easier for misunderstandings to escalate.As an Institute for Management Studies faculty member, I present a seminar on “The Power of Collaborative Leadership.” From that program, here are five tips for virtual collaboration:
We all understand the importance of face-to-face communication and non-verbal cues. This study would suggest that even ‘virtual’ face time promotes more effective distributed team work.
MANCHESTER, England, November 6, 2012 /PRNewswire/ —
New research shows that video-conferencing is more effective than telephone and email for remote team-working.
The research was conducted by the globally-recognised Fraunhofer Institute, a specialist in workplace collaboration technology, for OmniJoin, a new video and webconferencing solution from technology giant Brother.
It tested the impact of video-conferencing on the behaviour and productivity of two teams who undertook simulated workplace tasks* while based at different locations.
The key findings were that, compared to collaborating by telephone and email, video-conferencing…
A few weeks ago I was interviewed by Elissa Vallano for an article she was writing for the Mindjet Blog about remote collaboration and one of the true benefits of working virtually: being able to hire the best talent regardless of location.
In this interview I shared tips for creating an effective distributed team, including my 3 keys for remote collaboration in The Anywhere Office – 1. a shift in perspective 2. finding the right tools and thoughtfully applying them and 3. becoming a conscious communicator. The result of these steps is a highly productive virtual team that functions as smoothly as its in-office counterparts.
The interview was used for an excellent article which you can find here, “Never hire based solely on geography again“.
If you are not familiar with Mindjet, they provide software and services that allow teams to collaborate in the cloud sharing tasks, mind mapping. I recently discovered them and look forward to learning more about their services.
Their blog is full of great articles, so I encourage you to check it out!
Image Credits: Mindjet
With our first named storm bearing down this season (Hurricane Irene) and a recent earthquake in the Washington, DC area it’s the yearly wake-up call for small businesses to start thinking about business continuity and disaster preparedness. I prefer to talk about it from this perspective, ‘continuity’ and ‘preparedness’, rather than “disaster recovery”. With a smart, flexible business structure in place, hopefully you won’t need much recovery. Instead, you are fluid and can simply roll with whatever comes along. If you work in The Anywhere Office – you’re mobile and can communicate and collaborate across time and distance. You can work where and when you need to – just like you do every day.
Not quite there yet? That’s OK – you’re not alone – and we’ve got you covered!
Below are some useful disaster preparedness resources including websites, an episode of our radio show, a free business continuity teleseminar, and some recommended tools to help you weather any storm.
AUDIO (Radio Show Archive):
Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail (Business Continuity in the Changing World of Work)
There are many potential obstacles that can interrupt a company’s ability to do business as usual: inclement weather, natural disasters, special events, transit strikes, and skyrocketing transportation costs just to name a few. In this episode from our radio show archive we took a look at the differences between business continuity and disaster recovery as well as some strategies and technology to help you and your organization prepare. Jason and I talk with Brian Donahoo of Citrix Online, makers of GoToMyPC and GoToMeeting, to explore how aspects of the digital lifestyle can address and overcome these obstacles. As the Zen proverb says . . . The obstacle is the path.
Riding the Storm Out (Tips to develop a business continuity plan)
Consider this, almost 40% of small businesses that close due to a disaster event never re-open.
What would you do if the building your business is located within was damaged or destroyed in a disaster? Where would you go to continue providing your business services? Would you have the resources, databases, contact information and other necessary items to adapt to these changes? Read more