The Peer-to-Peer blog is a forum for Channel Partners readers with the goal of stimulating discussion among partners about important issues impacting their business. The opinions expressed here are those of the authors and not necessarily those of Channel Partners editors or publishers. If you are interested in submitting a blog, please contact Managing Editor Buffy Naylor, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Telecommuting: Yahoo's Mayer Has It Wrong
By David Byrd
Two weeks ago the IP community was shocked to read that the new CEO of Yahoo, Marissa Mayer, announced the desire to eliminate remote or telecommuting workers. Her specific rational for this was “ … communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side. ... Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home." I disagree with both her statements and course of action. But, before explaining why, perhaps I should justify why this topic is of interest to me.
First let me point out that a study by the University of Utah, "Monitor Size and Aspect Ratio Productivity Research," showed that when workers were provided with dual monitors, productivity was increased by 44 percent for text tasks and 29 percent for spreadsheet tasks.
Next let me reference an essay by Susan Cain, author of "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking." In her essay, which contradicts the assumed benefits of collaboration, Cain shares research that solitude improves productivity and creativity. Moreover, it is learned that "groupthink" does not promote the full participation or creativity of its members. People actually tend to develop fuller ideas in solitude rather than collaborative settings, as they are then not influenced by the opinions of dominant or more forceful individuals. Clearly, this contradicts Mayer’s point of people needing to work “side-by-side."
But my primary reason for taking exception Mayer's statement and course of action is this: We, as members of the IP community, promote by our products (SIP trunking, VoIP, unified communications, etc.) the use of the Internet as an improved and more effective way of developing products, services and collaboration. For Yahoo, a pioneer in the space, to reject the distribution of knowledge on a national or global basis is so contradictory to our premise it undercuts our efforts.
I agree that telecommuting workers should schedule time in the office to personally engage co-workers. At ANPI, we believe this is important in maintaining a desired corporate culture and developing a sense of inclusion.
Mayer’s efforts would have been better served establishing a set of practices for Yahoo’s telecommuting workers. Here I can assist. Telecommuting workers should:
- Establish a defined space for work separate from home activity. This means that when a telecommuting worker is in the home office, children, dogs, delivery personnel and the home phone are not acknowledged unless there is an emergency.
- Dress to go to work at home (no PJs)
- Have company provided equipment and telecom services
- Establish set work hours and follow them
- Use the phone, IM or Skype to seek or convey information and avoid using only email
- Have managers schedule weekly or periodic individual and group conference calls to update on work efforts and company activity
- Schedule regular time in the office to meet and interact with co-workers
I have used these rules in the past and suggest you apply them to any telecommuters in your business.
A final thought: Many companies have reported improvement in worker productivity ranging from 13.5 percent to 40 percent for telecommuting workers. That is one heck of a benefit! Those of you at Yahoo are free to share this with Marissa.
David Byrd is chief marketing officer and executive vice president of channel sales for ANPI ZONE . He previously spent five years as vice president of marketing and sales for Broadvox and before that was vice president of channels and alliances for Eftia and Telcordia.