Want to find a way to stir the pot amongst employees who have telecommuted for nearly a decade? Simple – tell them it’s time to ditch the sweatpants and sherpa slippers, put on something presentable and come to work five days a week. Sure, you can easily communicate with your co-workers via skype, email, text, Facebook or Gmail chat, but at Yahoo, nothing beats spending quality cubicle time with your fellow employees.
Just so you know – I don’t work for Yahoo, but I’ve been to their New York offices and the place is wall to wall cubicles. People don’t talk much since they are usually emailing other people but nevertheless, they are together. But will that camaraderie foster more productivity? As someone who has telecommuted for nearly 14 years, I have to say a five day work week in the office doesn’t make you more productive — it just enables your boss to know you are readily available for meetings that go on for eternity and keep you away from your massive to do list. It also frees you up for conversations around the Keurig machine and encourages you to make Happy Hour plans with your co-workers.
Don’t get me wrong – when I worked five days a week in a corporate office — I really enjoyed it. In the mornings, my co-workers and I would catch up on our evening festivities much like Kelly Ripa does with Michael Strahan every morning. We then attended a staff meeting, participated in conference calls, answered phones, emails, etc. and for the most part, we got some work done but definitely not as much as I did when I was home cruising through my to do list like a speed demon.
The bottom line to all this work life balance controversy is that in this day and age, there is no reason for a CEO to change policy and inform their staff they are doing away with telecommuting. We are all connected to servers, emails, texts, etc. In fact, though many of us are not brain surgeons, we hold our smartphones as a lifeline to the outside world — reading and responding to emails constantly even if they have no bearing on our personal or professional lives.
I truly hope that Yahoo is instituting this new plan so that their employees can shut down their computers at 6pm, go home to their families and not have to think about their respective deadlines until the next day. The telecommuting generation has become a 24/7 existence so if Yahoo has decided to set boundaries by instituting a workday that lasts a limited amount of hours, I am all for it. However, if their plan is to have their employees work five days a week and respond to their bosses after hours too, then therein lies the problem.
Something’s gotta give and if going backwards is Yahoo’s strategy – I truly hope their employees can roll with the punches, step into their respective time machines and experience life the way it used to be — when we spent five days a week at an office but were able to unplug the moment we bolted out those revolving doors.