An area that often stirs much debate are discussions that look to the future – particularly when talking about future technologies or trends. Often the debate around the economic benefits of projects such as the council’s focus on the city centre, ends with a discussion on the impact of working from home. Some argue that more and more people will work from home in the future, diluting the need for expensive transport solutions, while others (such as myself) suggest that current patterns will continue and that there are huge benefits to be had through businesses and employees working closer together. The argument is that while we have the technology to enable working from home or other remote locations, nothing beats being able to quickly share ideas with colleagues in the workplace.
It’s interesting to see that the debate has been flung wide open thanks to the actions of Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, who in an internal memo to staff announced that she wants people working in the office rather than at home, in a bid to improve the company’s performance.
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. We need to be one Yahoo!, and that starts with physically being together.
There are obviously lots of arguments for and against, with many people opposed to the move as the Forbes article notes below:
Unsurprisingly, the announcement rankled quite a few Yahoo employees, as well as supporters of workplace flexibility. Flexible work arrangements, from telecommuting to flexible schedules and condensed work weeks, are viewed by many as the way of the future. Flexibility has become an important tool for time-crunched workers, particularly parents, to better juggle work and family responsibilities.
I do like the idea of occasionally being able to work from home, but I don’t agree with primarily working from home and only occasionally making trips to the office. I have worked in teams before where people were frequently away from the office, and felt that the environment was never quite as productive. It will be interesting to see over time if Yahoo’s policy sees an improvement in performance and subsequently if other companies follow suit.