It seems that Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer really wants to make some drastic changes in the company to turn it around, because if you haven’t heard already, she has banned employees from working from home, a practice that is often praised and well accepted at other large corporations. Whether you agree with this or not, the real question is whether or not it will work. Let’s look at some basic pros and cons of working from home.
- Relaxed environment
- Snack whenever you want
- Work in your PJs, or no clothes at all if you want
- Avoid traffic completely
- Not in the office
- Will require more self motivation
- Conversing with coworkers will require video conference or phone call
Now, those are just some very basic pros and cons that came off the top of my head. I’m sure that you could come up with a few more as well. However, those are the main ones.
A Personal Experience
Being mostly a freelancer/entrepreneur at the moment, I would be considered someone who works from home all the time. A few months ago, I got started on Elance, and I was doing tons of work to the point where I was essentially working a part-time 20 hour per week job. For about a week and a half this worked out fine, just sitting in my house doing the work that needed to be done to bring in the money. However, eventually the initial excitement and drive started to fade away, and I realized that I was actually working. I was working alone, by myself, in a lonely environment. Soon, I just wasn’t working at the pace that I was originally working, and I had a couple of situations where I came very close to not meeting a deadline, simply because I wasn’t motivated to work as well.
One night, I got the idea of going to a coffee shop down the street to work. I grabbed my $4 coffee and went to work. I sat there until the coffee shop was closed for the night, and I was more productive than even in the beginning. Just being in a busy environment with other people gave me a similar feeling to being in an office, and I was motivated again.
However, soon it didn’t last for long. Yes, I still do my big freelance work in a public place where I can at least be out of the house, but I still have to keep myself self motivated, and I have no one else to collaborate with. Because of this, I do believe there are strong advantages to not working from home.
This Ban Already Works
If you know anything about Google, you probably know that they have a globally recognized headquarters called the GooglePlex. The GooglePlex essentially creates an environment in which you don’t feel the need to work from home. There are 3 meals a day with many choices, many different sports including beach volleyball courts, massage lounges, bean bag chairs, coffee shops, napping areas, you name it. Oh, and forget about having to worry about doing your laundry when you get home, because at the GooglePlex, it’s done for you. Other Google offices operate off of this same model, just to different scales. I’m not sure if Google has a work from home policy in place or not, but if I was a Google employee, I wouldn’t want to work from home.
Companies simply need to make the office a fun place where people actually want to come, because working at the office is the best option if you can. There are situations such as extremely heavy snow and ice in which working from home would be needed, but just working from home once a week because you want to should not need to be an option if the company makes the office fun. The companies that are succeeding have taken cubicles out of the equation and made fun open office layouts where you can see from corner to corner.
So will this ban help Yahoo in particular? It should help increase productivity, that’s for sure.