I love Marissa Mayer’s decision

Yes, telecommuting does have its place in today’s world.  Yes, it does make employees happier.  But what if those happy employees aren’t the ones that are right for your company?

It all comes down to culture and execution.  

1) How important is culture for the success of your company?  (It matters a lot for a tech company like Gojee or a company in transition like Yahoo, it matters less for a call center or a manufacturing job)

2) What constitutes successful execution for your company?  (At a tech company it’s the ideas that teams generate and their successful implementation.  At a call center, it’s the service representative answering a call courteously and helpfully).

It’s pretty clear which type of companies benefit from telecommuting.  For organizations where teamwork is paramount to success, face-to-face interaction is still better than Google Hangout, Skype, and emails.

So sorry mr. strategy consultant, I don’t buy that strategy and leadership will take care of everything.  That’s only true if execution is guaranteed.  And we both know that execution of anything worth doing is anything but guaranteed.  Reacting to the surprises along the way is much easier done in person.

We’d kid ourselves to think, that operational deficiencies isn’t costly and directly affect the ability of leaders to strategize and set direction for a team of any size.  A misunderstanding over email, a lack of transparency on progress, or a bad internet connection that interrupts a meeting can have huge impact on team chemistry and the success of a project.

And sorry Mrs. Francke.  This isn’t great for parents who want to spend all day with their kids.  But perhaps Yahoo or any company looking for guaranteed execution requires people with a different set of priorities.  What happens if you have an important meeting and your kids are crying in the background?  What takes priority?  Coming from a background where my parents made many sacrifices for me, it’s a tough decision. Maybe by working from the office, that decision with no right answer doesn’t have to be made.

And for every model worker there is one of these.  Maybe it’s actually easier to build true trust in a physical environment, because it builds camaraderie and human interaction.  And maybe workers can actually be happier because they see proof every day that they are part of something bigger than themselves.

I’m not saying every job at every company requires perfect attendance.  I’m saying that there are significant benefits to the physical work place, especially for certain jobs and industries.

In Yahoo’s case, it can be a huge difference maker, but the management team will need a good plan for what the workplace culture and identity will be from now on.  And if so, maybe those who decide to stay will actually end up happier and more productive than before.

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