Face-Time Takes On Telecommuting

Wednesday, November 20 2013

It has become widely accepted that objective-based incentives increase overall worker happiness and productivity. However, the jury is still out on Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s bold move to ban reporting from home at a time when most companies are introducing flex hours and work from home Fridays. 

“People are more productive when they work alone, but not surprisingly they are more collaborative and more inventive when they work together.”
Despite this new face-time policy, Mayer has been quoted as saying that she ascribes to the theory that “People are more productive when they work alone, but not surprisingly they are more collaborative and more inventive when they work together.” (Wired Business Conference 2013). But, how does a business reconcile the two concepts in its HR strategy? 

The debate shouldn’t be about whether the now common trend of working from home is the best policy for your company or not, but when. There are obvious benefits from both practices. Understanding your immediate needs (projects, deadlines, etc.) and your company’s culture will allow you to determine when reporting from home is most appropriate.

Here’s a quick guide to know when to stay home and when to schlep. 

 Reporting from home is best...  Clocking in at the office is best...
 For objective-based projects. If you are working on a specific project that is not hour-based, working from home is ideal. Studies by Harvard indicate that rational based planning reduces stress and increases productivity. For meetings: decision making is faster and richer when done face-to-face in real time, of course, that is when meetings are well structured.
 For executing solitary tasks that require independent thinking. With clear communication and well-defined tasks, a little autonomy may get the job done quicker (programming or operational tasks are good examples of this).  For idea generation; diversity is key to innovation. The more perspectives around, the stronger results you'll get.
When you need to concentrate on a task and be alone (whether it's in your favorite coffee shop or at home). Phone calls and interruptions are some of the biggest productivity killers. If your office doesn't have a silent room, you should be able to find your own.  When on boarding new employees. This establishes camaraderie and collaboration as well as is a fundamental part of making the new addition feel a part of company culture. As you get to know your peers you'll be in a better position to understand how best to work with them. 
If you have family obligations that conflict with office hours. The freedom to manage your own time while tending to family and professional responsibilities motivates employees to take more ownership of his/her work. Women, particularly benefit from this option; as natural multi-taskers, they value the ability to organize their time as they see fit to meet their family and work's needs. For year-end reviews. Face time is vital to career advancement. It is hard for a manager to evaluate your performance fully if you rarely interact in person. When you are out of office it's crucial to maintain constant and open communication with your managers so that you seem more present.
If you live far from the office, it's not conveniently located or need to travel a lot, it may not be the most efficient use of your time to head back to the office after or in between out-of-office-meetings. When you need to use office resources, hardware or programs that may need support from other departments.
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working-from-home-signOffering employees flexibility in their schedule and location have clear benefits for morale and productivity, and are often the cornerstones of "Best Places To Work." But maybe Mayer's on the right track for Yahoo's immediate needs. When a company is undergoing organizational changes, having everyone all together is fundamental for developing and changing corporate culture.

You can have the best of both worlds – if you organize your time correctly!

 
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