“I think it’s difficult for a culture to transition from being reliant on in-person interactions to being just as effective in a distributed fashion — it’s something you can’t do halfway, and the change has to come from the very top. Just because Yahoo can’t do it doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with being distributed.” – Matt Mullenweg, Automatic
Over the past few days, all of my news feeds have been cluttered with Marissa Mayer’s decision to put an end to “working from home.” I will be honest in sharing with you that while I was very disappointed, I was not shocked. A woman who is able to return to the office just after two weeks giving birth, Mayer is a hard-core, no joke woman. Hell, at two weeks I was one hot mess of nipple confusion, soreness and an utter mess of tears.
I hesitated to comment on this story until I had time to really digest Mayer’s actions. And it wasn’t until I came across an NPR article that quoted Matt Mullenweg (Genius and head of this very platform, WordPress) that I realized something very important.
Just because one company (albeit a major company) decides to put an end to telecommuting, it doesn’t or shouldn’t dictate the future of working from home. There are many companies that thrive on this arrangement and there will be many more companies that will will offer telecommuting – in the right working environment.
Let me be clear – working from home DOES NOT apply to every job, career or function in the office. It’s obvious, that your child’s pediatrician needs to be in the office to see your child when he is sick. However, a programmer or accountant or me – marketing – can very well accomplish work from their desk at home – if they have a suitable work space.
I have worked one to two days a week from home for the past eight years. In those eight years, my children were both with me as infants, babies, toddlers and then kids. It was near impossible to get work accomplished while they were awake, but I worked feverishly when I could and learned to really be focused throughout the day. I sat my babies in front of Baby Einstein and took conference calls in the next room (sometimes bathrooms too). I knew the working arrangement was a blessing and I was determined to work harder to prove my worth.
Today, working from home is privilidge that I dare not take for granted. Both of my children are now in school full time and I sit at my desk focused and getting a healthy portion of the week’s work accomplished in those two days than the three days I am in the office.
And I get it – I get what Mayer is saying. She is trying to piece together a company that really needs help. I am not sure I would do away completely with working from home. I believe that will tamper with employee morale, but I do agree that there needs to be a physical presence where employees can share, create and thrive. I find the social interaction with my co-workers really enhances my work and productivity.
I am sure this is not the last of this debate and all eyes will be focused into Yahoo. Hold on Marissa Mayer. I do not envy you.