Service of Telecommuting

March 28th, 2013

Categories: Management, Telecommuting, Work


Since I read about Yahoo’s HR director, Jackie Reses’ memo to all staff telling them that if they work at home they have until June to report to a desk at a Yahoo office fulltime, it’s been in the back of my mind.

Kara Swisher quoted Reses’ entire memo in her coverage on All Things D, “‘Physically Together’: Here’s the Internal Yahoo No-Work-From-Home Memo for Remote Workers and Maybe More.” An excerpt of that memo:

meeting“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.”

Moving back to the office affects several hundred who currently work at home fulltime and Swisher reported that many others work remotely one or two days a week.

Playing SolitaireI try to attend board and committee meetings in person because I often discover helpful tidbits and back stories. When we all call in, or when I am forced to, I am distracted especially if someone drones on so I play solitaire; read emails or make “to do” lists.

There are exceptions such as weekly or monthly telephone conference calls with clients headquartered across town or country, a convenient way to update them, pose questions, propose solutions to challenges and most important to a consultant, hear about changes and plans—information some clients don’t otherwise have time to share.

During one of these calls the client casually referred to a product launch we were about to release to the press. He used an unfamiliar name for the line. None of us on the call knew that he’d changed its name and all of the approved press releases and photo captions with the original one were ready to go.

Some friends and colleagues who love working from home pass on job opportunities in which they must appear at an office. Others get to stay home with their babies one day a week—though they must have someone else to watch the child according to many employment agreements.

Telecommuting was once the Holy Grail, a paean to flexibility and squeezing the best out of staff and at the same time saving on the cost of office space. So why is the bloom off the rose–especially when you consider the numbers of easy and inexpensive ways there are of communicating and even seeing staff on screen in their at-home outposts?

Do you think people work better face-to-face and under one roof or doesn’t it matter?

Face to face

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5 Responses to “Service of Telecommuting”

  1. David Reich Said:

    There’s nothing like face-to-face interaction to spur creativity and collaboration. Working remotely online certainly has its benefits, but it’s hard to replicate what can come from personal interaction rather than a conference call or endless back & forth emails and texts.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I focus best face-to-face.

    If well run, with a purpose, shared by adults with agendas only to address the issues at hand and not act out, meetings can be fruitful, mood-raising and fun.

  3. Lucrezia Said:

    It’s doubtful there is an answer to this, since different things work best for different people. When the occasions presented themselves, I found myself to be equally happy working at home or office. Because of multiple personalities involved, Yahoo is probably in error. Time will tell.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Not only personalities, but some people who are extremely valuable to Yahoo may have to find another job because for whatever reason, they have to work from home. While, as I’ve written, I prefer to work outside my home, like you, I’ll work anywhere and if the right opportunity presents with the requirement that I work at home, work there I will!

  5. JPM Said:

    On balance, Yahoo is more right than wrong. However, in managing people, I found a more flexible approach worked best.

    Some of us work best alone. Others thrive in company and bustle.

    Some people tend to dominate meetings suffocating often the brighter, more creative but more timid; some of the most able can’t or won’t speak publically, and some can’t put two words together coherently in writing but are oral wizzes.

    Badly managed meetings accomplish nothing and are extremely expensive in uselessly using everyone’s time. You must have good moderators to make meetings worthwhile. But then, much of most jobs does not have to be done in an office, shop or factory.

    This is something truly each entity should decide for itself depending on what works best for it.

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