Marissa Mayer, the CEO of Yahoo, has the Internet ablaze with her memo to her “Yahoos,” published on All Things D, in which she states that as of June of 2013, all employees who were hired as telecommuters will instead be required to physically work in the Yahoo offices. Criticism of Mayer’s decision has been quick, and from all corners of the digital world. The truth is, not everyone is cut out to work from home.
As a life-long telecommuter, I initially agreed with those criticizing Mayer. I’ve always worked from home. Being task-oriented and results-focused, I don’t thrive in an office environment. I feel water-cooler conversations tend to center around gossip and griping more than brainstorming and problem solving. The few times I’ve had to go to an office to do my job, I still had to bring work home and stay up late to make up for wasted time during the day. Long lunch breaks, endless interruptions by colleagues, drop-in visits, chit-chat and TVs blaring in the background were not conducive to productivity. Hellos, goodbyes, “I’ve got a doctor’s appointment,” and “where the heck is so-and-so…” interrupted my concentration non-stop. I found it challenging to get anything done.
In fact, when I worked at a news-based Internet publication, I found that on the rare occasions I came into the office, my productivity decreased by more than 50 percent. Again, keep in mind that this is coming from someone who has telecommuted for more than 30 years. Thirty years! Before computers, faxes, cell phones and most definitely before the Internet, I was already working from home quite efficiently.
Read Related: 7 Steps for Successful Freelancing
By not having to deal with commutes, traffic, chit-chat, office politics, gossip, endless in-person meetings—the typical time-wasters of office jobs—when I sit down to work, I work. If I say I worked six hours straight, I mean it. On the other hand, I don’t count how many hours it takes me to get something done. I get it done, regardless of whether that happens in one hour or 20. It’s up to me to optimize my time, and I do. I’m a self-motivated entrepreneurial professional by nature. If a company that hired me as a telecommuter forced me to work at the office, I’d be the first one to turn in my resignation.
Now, I do get the flip side, as explained by The InQuisitr. A large part of Mayer’s decision to ban telecommuting was based on solving a long overdue company issue: “Marissa is paying attention to new hires because she wants to avoid ‘C-list’ workers who don’t really want to be with the company, a problem Yahoo spent years combating as the company’s earnings and infrastructure failed.”
Because, realistically, not everyone is cut out for telecommuting. Many people cannot function if they don’t have a boss literally breathing down their necks. Or they are simply artists at pretending to be working (at the office) while they are in fact wasting as much time as they possibly can. So in order to weed out those bad hires, Mayers is taking the shotgun approach. She’ll lose some good employees because of this new policy, but she’ll likely get rid of more bad ones.
So instead of defending or attacking Mayer’s memo or the reasons behind it, I will challenge you to evaluate whether you are really cut out to telecommute. If you are, don’t settle for an office job. And if you aren’t, you’ll likely do much better in a traditional office setting.
YOU KNOW YOU ARE A GOOD TELECOMMUTER IF YOU:
- Are self-motivated and self-disciplined.
- Work well alone, and are task-oriented.
- Are adaptable, able to take your work with you and do so in a variety of environments.
- Are flexible. You can adapt to different schedules as needed, and are open to change.
- Are ok with non face-to-face forms of communication with colleagues, bosses and clients: the phone, email, skype, texting, social media.
- Can function with your kids around you, or with family and friends nearby. You need to be able to close the door, put earplugs in, shut the immediate world out and work even if there is a party happening around you (I know because I’ve had to do that when on a deadline).
- Are confident of your capabilities.
YOU KNOW YOU ARE BETTER SUITED FOR AN OFFICE SETTING IF YOU:
- Find yourself counting the hours instead of measuring your progress.
- Constantly procrastinate by doing household chores instead of working.
- Enjoy the camaraderie of co-workers, both for professional and social motives, and miss it when you work at home…
- Wish to be measured by the number of hours you put in, not by results or completed projects.
- Are easily distracted by your kids, the TV or internet, or twittering birds outside the window.
- Don’t love your job.
Not everyone is cut out for telecommuting. And not every job is suitable for telecommuting. I would turn down a job that required me to go to an office because I’m self-driven and could not stand having to spend X number of hours at job if my work were done for the day, just as I could not go home at 5pm if I felt I hadn’t finished my tasks. But not everyone is that way, so, if Mayer’s move at Yahoo was meant to target the at-home slackers, then I understand her decision.
But, watch her next moves…I wouldn’t be surprised if after getting rid of the dead weight, a few months down the line, Mayer hires the best in their field and lets them telecommute. Because the advantage of an Internet-based business is that you can secure talent from all over the globe. And if she is to succeed as CEO, in order to build a strong team she needs to look outside the zip code of the brick and mortar offices of her company.