No More Phoning It In, Ctd

Readers sound off on Yahoo’s new policy:

I am a software developer at an interactive agency, I work from home, and I have two insights on Mayer’s decision to eliminate telecommuting. First, our company employs talented people all over the world, because it is very difficult to find enough skilled technology workers; to insist that they also physically live in the same vicinity as your company headquarters is a certain kind of madness. This is slightly less of a problem for companies headquartered in technology hubs like SV or major cities, but it’s a problem nonetheless, so it’s not uncommon to see companies in smaller markets who welcome telecommuters. (As an aside, the synergistic effects of physical interaction and “water cooler time” is offset by all manner of unproductive office distractions. Have you ever been to a meeting? They’re awful.)

Second, I’ve interviewed at Yahoo’s Silicon Valley campus recently.

What I observed was surprising (to me): there are a relatively small number of engineers and designers among an ocean of employees. What do these non-technical people do for Yahoo? I’m not really sure. But there are crowds of them, and Yahoo could probably cut their numbers by a third and never notice the difference. It may be that Mayer is trying to do just that.

Another elaborates on that theory:

Have folks considered that this is just a layoff by another name? Of course Mayer knows that great things are possible with remote workers, and that many Yahoo employees were hired with the understanding of various levels of flexibility. And of course there were alternative approaches of having leaders ask individual teams to come together when brainstorming on new product ideas. But certainly a result of this move is some will leave Yahoo. And maybe that’s needed. Compare it to a conventional layoff, which has some negative publicity (fear of a ‘downward spiral’ of future rounds) but managers get to get rid of the less productive workers (in their eyes). In this case it is likely that some of the more creative folks may attrit.

The Dish of course no longer has an office, but even when we did, we only occasionally went into it. The intense editing of the site is actually far more efficient when we are solo in our blog caves or coffee shops. And naturally the new Dish’s uncertain budget greatly benefits from not having to pay for office space.