Friday, March 1, 2013

Home .....Work???

     To go to the office to work or to telecommute? Herein lies the question.

     Innovation is the main reason cited by Yahoo for the recent requirement that all employees work from the company's offices instead of working from home.  That is an ideal situation for all employees who are constantly in "innovation" mode.  The research and development department(s) would house most of those that fall under the innovative category, but what about support, programmers, content up daters, and so on and so forth?  Must they be present and accounted for every day at the office?  Is there a fear that some employees will be non-productive?  Let us interject reality here. Most non-productive or should I say less-productive employees have it down to an art or a science anyway, and regardless of where they 'work' from, they will continue to be less productive while still appearing to to be the rising stars of the organization.  Tele-commuting might actually weed some of these employees out as with them being out of the office, it is harder for them to pilfer someone's idea, or give their well rehearsed and ego flattering 'bs-talk' to their immediate supervisor every evening before they leave.  This "what I accomplished today" report and this "how great thou art" spiel wastes the time of the supervisor, and if one really paid attention, they would realize that each daily report is simply a rehashed and modified version of the ten or so the "accomplisher" gushes out on rotation once every two weeks.

     Yes, group effort often spawns creativity, and one idea may very well be a corner stone for an entire new feature or set of applications for a company.  However,  put someone with the mindset of Bill Gates in a basement by himself, and who knows what may be born.

     For organizations which fear that they are unable to monitor their employee's workload if the employee works from home, and thus fear that they may be paying for some wasted time, then the solution is simple. Monitor the productivity of the employee.  That is a variable that can be bench marked and tracked.  Besides, it may be a good idea for the powers that be to take a hard look at their offices one day; these same offices where they believe more work, innovation and team effort will be produced.  Add up those eight or so fifteen minute conversations, socializing, or cigarette breaks that each employee takes, and realize where approximately two hours every day for each employee is evaporating.

     Not everyone works well in a hustle and bustle noisy environment, and I for one am one of those people.  Give me an office or a cubicle in a non-stop "chatty" and noisy environment, and my productivity/effort ratio drops dramatically.  The job at hand is going to take much longer and require more effort due to the noisy distractions, and the constant questions and interruptions.
     Of course there will be situations where one employee needs information quickly, or a hurried answer to a question; but is that not the reason we have all the smart phones, instant messaging, expensive software programs, ICloud, smart applications, and chat rooms?  Certainly we do not have them so that we can go into the office and maintain contact with our friends, spouses, and partners. Correct?
     Then there is the time factor.  Working from home works for me and works for whoever I may be working for. Why?  For now my employee not only gets the additional benefit of my commute time which usually averages an hour each way every day, but they also have the best of my high level productivity time.  With no distractions,  I can disappear into my home office and take advantage of that burst of productivity that hits me at around 9:00pm or whenever, even though I have already put in what the "commuter employees" would term a full day's work.  Better yet, with the exceptions of when  I have to meet with a client, or attend an online face to face conference, then I do not have to perform more than the basic hygiene in the way of grooming.  A shower and the donning of some comfortable garments is a lot quicker than the selection and ironing of clothes, the selection of shoes and accessories, and the required cosmetic and hair styling transformations.  The company just got some more time I can allocate to them,  and I just got more productive by being comfortable.
     Did I mention space?  As a telecommuter, the only space I require is an occasional  seat at the conference table at staff meetings and client / employer meetings.  There is no need to carve a niche out in the company floor plan, and name that cubicle or office for me. 
     Yahoo and Facebook merged, and shortly after that Yahoo announced it's decision to have all employees to return to office on a daily basis.  Facebook has been changing many things in their environment in a fast and furious manner.  Yahoo has reversed a change that they made years ago with regards to telecommuting.  Perhaps there still remains the "unknown factor" in the equation, and great things will evolve for these merged companies with all of their employees constantly seated at the table.  Only time will tell.  In the meantime, I will be seated with my laptop and smart phone, wherever and in as much space as they require, and be one happy and content productive producer.
Yvonne Michele Harris