Outside my cubicle comfort zone: A rant on Yahoo’s telecommuting changes

I have a little rant tonight. Since I work from home, I’ll be careful not to trip over my oversized pajama pants or lose my fuzzy bunny slippers when I step on the soapbox.

DSCN5329 What I look like when I work. Notice the massage stick- typical runner.

After my 5:00 AM workout wakeup call this morning, I turned on the news to hear about Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer’s ruling that employees can no longer work from home.

As of June 1, Yahoo! employees must report to the office or lose their jobs. According to the leaked policy changes, associates need to be present and working side-by-side to increase communication and collaboration. Mayer wants employees to be present in their (corporate) offices, having hallway and cafeteria discussions, and meeting new people.

For what it’s worth, I must disagree with Marissa Mayer. As a professional writer who works from home, working outside of the office has increased my communication and collaboration skills and let me meet new people beyond the cubicle walls.

First- working from home demands rethinking methods of communication. Since I’ve only worked from home for around 9 months, I remember the days of seeing friends in the hallway or parking lot, chats by the water cooler, and lunches in the break room well. 95% of our conversations in those areas had nothing to do with work.

creativity_use_up

My coworkers and I still have the same conversations we normally had at the water cooler- only on instant messenger, through texting, and using social media. Gone are the days of Yahoo! 15 years ago, when people went to chat rooms to “meet” friends- social media involves networks now, networks of colleagues, friends, classmates, and family members. Some workplaces frown upon social media, but most of us won’t wind up on MTV’s Catfish by occasionally using Facebook (especially at a tech company where we already know the secrets they expose). Most of us are socializing with meaningful people in our lives.

Second, when you work from home, collaboration can be an adventure… and has made me a better writer. In an office, collaboration is easy. You have vocal tones, facial expressions, and body language that can paint an accurate picture of what you want to say. Working remotely, those are luxuries. Most of the time, I only have text- and with the exception of ALL CAPS YELLING, I must use that text to accurately convey my message.

This isn’t a bad thing- after all, I’m a professional writer. The end users who read the instruction manuals, training guides, and articles I write don’t have my voice, face, or body to make them comfortable with a product. What do they have? That’s right- the text.

einstein_quote

As a writer, I use text to instruct an audience- those who purchase and use our products. But, who IS my audience? Our end users aren’t always the relatively young, college-educated, middle-class, technology geeks who are on the other side of the cubicle walls. Administrators who develop software on the side read the instruction manuals I develop. So do administrators who struggle to keep up with the ever-changing Facebook interface, along with those who don’t text or touch a computer outside of work.

Feeling slightly inspired by the Brad Paisley song, working outside the office gets me out of my “Southern Comfort Zone”. Interacting in a shopping mall, fast casual restaurant, coffee house, or track practice is completely different than interacting in an office or sitting behind a desk all day. It’s neat to sit back and just watch people go about their day, and as a writer, you have to be a student of people. By working remotely, in a completely different and new-to-me city, I’ve met a plethora of people. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t affect my writing- the key to writing for a diverse audience is to surround yourself with one.

surround_yourself


I’m glad I don’t work for Yahoo (Of course, I really love my current job and have no desire to leave anytime soon). Between the rise of Google and social media, I agree that they must do something to keep up. Just like Yahoo’s glory days of the early 2000s are fading, so are the days when most people work in an n8-5. What worked yesterday doesn’t work today and will be obsolete tomorrow.

The tech industry isn’t a slow neighborhood jog. It’s a marathon at race pace- constantly moving forward, progressing, and changing in the long run. Either push the pace, change with it, or get left behind and forgotten- just like those Geocities webpages we young techies played around with in junior high.

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20 Responses to Outside my cubicle comfort zone: A rant on Yahoo’s telecommuting changes

  1. I agree 100% with you! My husband and I both work from home and we can honestly say we work harder from home than we ever did in the office. We are in our element and I have gotten to meet so many more people since doing so than I ever did when I worked for someone (I am also fortunate to work for myself). Plus companies safe money by allowing their staff at home opportunities!

    • Amy Lauren says:

      I guess I work about the same- I worked pretty hard in the office. But I work differently now, much more comfortably since I can eat what I want for lunch, wear what I want, listen to music if I want to. It’s easier to make the work environment conducive to *my* productivity :).

      I bet you meet a ton of people through personal training too! Speaking of which we should meet sometime, hopefully I will run into you at a race or something (ironically we both raced Saturday in different ones!)

  2. Agreed. 100%. When I write, I need a quiet space. Working in a cubicle is my nightmare because I cannot concentrate with others around me and I get very annoyed by noises that I hear others make (I have had office-mates who are loud gum-chewers and it drove me insane, but I realize I might not be normal). I think working from home or letting people choose their hours shows trust and builds a bond between employee and boss. Ugh, not Yahoo job in my future!

  3. Nerri says:

    Well said!! I don’t think working at home is for everyone, but I certainly dont think that it should be eliminated across the board. Melissa Mayer definitely has her work cut out for her at Yahoo – I’ll be curious to see how the next year or so goes 🙂

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Yeah, I’m interested to see too… just seems like a giant leap in the wrong direction to me. If a person doesn’t work well, at home or in the office, that’s when action needs to be taken. Not against everyone or a way of work.

  4. runwkate says:

    Classy soap-box!

    Working from home can be so incredibly effective. It’s a little scary that a huge online company can’t see the irony in requiring people to be face to face only.

  5. Steph says:

    I definitely agree. The days of a regular 9-5 are waning, for sure. While there are benefits to working in person, there are so many collaboration tools now that it is nearly unnecessary. Unfortunately, my job is in manufacturing so I do need to actually go to work most days, but I am so productive when I work from home! I would love to telecommute, at least part-time. I see the appeal and am jealous 🙂

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Yeah, a lot of jobs are like that and let you work from home if you need to or sometimes, which is also cool. Really helpful if you need to be at home waiting on a repair man, cable guy, etc, because you don’t have to take off completely. And yes, pretty productive too!

  6. I totally agree with everything you said. I hope that it doesn’t really happen so those employees can stay home. My husband works from home 2 days a week and gets everything done that he can at the office. Silly people..

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Yeah, it takes discipline but it can be done! My manager used to work at home one day a week and always said she got more done because she had more privacy. So sometimes it’s actually a better option, depending on the employee.

  7. This is really interesting and I enjoyed hearing your side of this Amy! I am sure the assumption is that people are being “lazy” when they are at home, not actually doing anything, not getting work done, etc. But clearly that is not entirely true, and I would think working from home could be quite beneficial for the person. Of course there will be people that perhaps try and take the easy way out by working from home.. but you will always find those not following the expected guidelines in any situation.
    Although I don’t have a personal experience with this, I’m pretty sure I would be much more productive at home! Plus…yay for no commute 🙂

  8. I think Yahoo needs to look at it on a person to person basis and not make some huge generalization. This just doesn’t seem to make sense.

  9. LilMysNinja says:

    I agree with BackatSquareo. And kudos for you for working from home. I personally know I would struggle with finding the motivation to do work from home. However, if I could, the bright side is that I”d probably get more done!

  10. Kara says:

    I’ve read so many articles about the benefits of working from home…it’s amazing! When I work from home I’m sooo much happier, more comfortable, and more productive! It’s so nice (and healthier!) to get out of the office. It’s a bummer that they made this decision for the Yahoo employees. I guess it’s not for everyone! (I imagine some people are less productive/focused when working at home…but why punish everyone!)

    PS I love the song Southern Comfort Zone! 🙂

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Yeah, I can see where people are less productive, because you have to motivate yourself to work. And yes, it is healthier… a lot more time to get a workout in, eat healthier foods from my kitchen, etc.

      I love that song too :). I never even started listening to country until moving here but I love it now.

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