Yahoo and Working from Home

Working from home can be a blessing for both employers and employees, but only if the process is managed properly. Andrew explains how Yahoo went wrong and how you can avoid making the same type of mistake.


Miller’s Monday Morning Message

Andrew MillerMiller’s Monday Morning Message
presented by ACM Consulting Inc.Andrew Miller on operational excellence, strategy, life balance and everything in between

Toronto – March 4, 2013
This week, Yahoo announced that employees are no longer permitted to work from home. Every Yahoo employee must now move to a corporate office. Yahoo cited lost productivity and a lack of employee collaboration as the reasons for the new policy. In reality, this decision was made because Yahoo did a poor job of managing employees and their employees took advantage of that. This should be concerning for two reasons: firstly, that Yahoo employees aren‘t respectful enough of the company to not abuse the work from home policy; and secondly, that the situation got so bad that Yahoo needed to go to an extreme to stop it.
Most of the commentary about this move focuses on how it will hurt Yahoo’s ability to attract the best and brightest people to the organization. The bigger concern should be retaining the people that they already have. What strategy do they have in place to transition those employees who currently work from home and would like to continue to do so? How do you handle those employees who were exceeding expectations while still working from home? Yahoo has some big challenges ahead in selling this change to a workforce that is used to more flexible and relaxed policies.
Here’s what organizations can do to avoid these kinds of situations:
  • Ensure each employee has clear accountabilities – Don’t focus on activities to be performed, but results to be achieved. If each employee knows what they are accountable for, it becomes much easier for them to focus their efforts and to measure their performance.
  • Manage their performance regularly Employee performance should be managed regularly to ensure that they are achieving the accountabilities laid out for them. If they are not meeting expectations, then a change needs to be made. If managed properly, the change will not need to be as extreme as the move that Yahoo is making.
  • Set the expectation that time in the office is requiredSince creativity can sometimes be fostered more effectively when done collaboratively, organiztions can set the expectation that employees can work from home for a portion of the week, but need to be in the office for the remaining days. This gives the organization and the employees the best of both worlds.
“The challenge with making a decision like this is that it takes things to the extreme,” says Andrew Miller, President of ACM Consulting. “Yahoo is saying to its employees that there is no trust to get the proper work done without supervision. This is not a strong foundation for retaining their best people.This looks like a quick reaction to a problem that has been festering for a while.”
To request an interview or more information, please contact:
Andrew Miller
Follow me on Twitter @AndrewMillerACM
© Andrew Miller. All rights reserved. 2013