To Work From Home or Not: A Reasonable Question for You Mr. Startup!


To Work From Home or Not_ A Resonable Question for You Mr. Startup!

When Yahoo last year decided Marissa Mayer as its new chief executive, many thought she would prove an advocate of working parents (who was a mom-to-be at the time). However, with Mayer’s recent demand that telecommuters either need to come into the office or quit, some of her previous fans are bitter with her.

Many comments from Forbes to Twitter show discouragement with her opinions, calling her policy “awful for ALL workers” and “this woman is RIDICULOUS!” are just some of the tweets sent by angry people, which some of whom had expressed previous support for Mayer.

The initial reports indicate that hundreds of employees, including remote customer service reps, exclusively work from home and many other staff members have the flexibility for a few days a week. Well, had, I suppose. A portion of the leaked internal memo from the CEOs desk can be found at allthingsd.com.

Everyone Report to Silicone Valley … Now! (By June).

Bringing this topic home, you Mr. Startup, have a big question to answer before hiring employees. Let us offer some pros and cons.

Pro: lunch at home

For employees, benefits are plentiful to working from home. The freedom from time restraints allows for increased productivity. Focus can increase due to a lack of interruptions. How does a business owner know if she is being taken advantage of by her telecommuters? As long as the work is done, right? Well … getting the work done is average and acceptable. What about going above and beyond, though? In Mayer’s case, the reports indicate this decision might be the result of employee exploitation.

Pro: save the environment

Save time; save gas; save the earth. Working from home reduces vehicular carbon emissions, and because communication happens through the Internet, office resources like Post-it notes and printed memos are less used.

Also, when an individual works from home, they must become more familiar with collaboration applications that allow instant chat and connection to meetings; business applications that include invoicing and business card printing online; and productivity applications like shared calendars.

Con: roll out of bed

Along with the benefits, there are some legitimate cons. For instance, once you roll out of bed, you’re at the office. So, really, the work day never ends. Your bed is the only refuge. While you may get to watch a movie during your two-hour lunch break, you’ll have to make up for lost time.

And sometimes, things go wrong (or right) at work. Everyone is immediately to report to the conference room to brainstorm, solve the crisis or celebrate … except Paul. He telecommutes. All of a sudden you’re out of the conversation.

Con: we need people

It seems this is one of the driving forces of Mayer’s memo. She asked for in-house communication and collaboration, which can’t easily be reached with separation. There’s no denying there’s something to say about face-to-face communication. The year 2013 offers online video conference systems like Webex, but often a handshake and a smile are the only true things that’ll seal a deal.

For your employees, depending on the industry, the ability to exchange ideas and share news can’t be duplicated when working alone. In your opinion are an instant message and social media enough?

Establish the Guidelines

To get ahead in business today, work isn’t 8 to 5. There is nary an industry that shuts down at the end of the day; meaning, the radar should always be on for productivity. This is business. Do what you foresee to be the best course of action for your particular needs. And stick to it.

No matter what you decide, be completely clear when establishing guidelines for employees. It might determine their decision to come work for you. As you know, transparency is crucial from the onset. Whether having the flexibility to work from home was a deciding factor to your employees coming on board or not, if the policy changes, they might use it against you.

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