Sometimes It’s All Hands On Deck

Telecommuting has been all over the news this week. First, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer changed the company’s policy that allowed employees to work (sometimes entirely) from home. Yahoo tried to put the story in perspective with a press release that said, “This isn’t a broad industry view on working from home. This is about what is right for Yahoo right now.”

Just a few days later, Best Buy announced that it would eliminate its renowned Results-Only Work Environment, a program that allowed corporate employees to work when and were they chose, as long as the quality of the work met the company’s standards. Like Yahoo’s change, it’s not a total ban, but corporate employees are now expected to work 40 hours a week and to come into the office “as much as possible.” Best Buy spokesperson Matt Furman said, “Bottom line, it’s ‘all hands on deck’ at Best Buy and that means having employees in the office as much as possible to collaborate and connect on ways to improve our business.”

So, are Yahoo and Best Buy doing the right thing? As a consultant to major brands on culture and employer branding, I think they are.

Working from home -- a lost luxury?

Working from home — a lost luxury?

Both these companies are engaged in turnarounds. Smart companies react to changing situations with their own changes, so I see these moves as responsive to business needs. It’s also reflective of the companies’ faith in their talent to help them steer the ship out of the storm.

Mayer and Best Buy CEO Hubert Joly know that they need the collective brainpower of their employees to come up with great and wonderful ideas. It takes a village, after all. In fact, Marissa Mayer was brought to Yahoo to make the company more like Google – and neither Google nor Facebook, both of whom have made it so easy for us to connect with people virtually, allows unlimited telecommuting.

Bloomberg, a hugely successful digital company, was a pioneer in seeing the value of instant, in-office, business exchanges in real-time. Their buildings famously have no offices, only shared spaces. It’s even part of their employer branding: “Our wide-open workspaces encourage collaboration.”

Bloomberg's share workspaces. Photo by Willie Jeung

Bloomberg’s share workspaces. Photo by Willie Jeung

Many other companies limit or ban working from home. In fact, 15 of Forbes 100 Best Companies to Work For have no telecommuting program. 

Talent management professionals have long known that it’s a business imperative to have the right talent for the right jobs at the right time. Now we coming to recognize that they need to be in the right place too.

Need help changing your culture? Email me and we’ll talk.

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