Work From Work

yahoo-logoEveryone is talking, and writing, about the Yahoo announcement yesterday.  The head of Human Resources at Yahoo sent an email to all staff essentially eliminating work from home programs.  In other words, for your job, show up in an office … and have a nice day.

Yes, a big and juicy topic for a blog on leadership and organizational effectiveness.  Where does one start?  Of course, do I agree with Yahoo or not. 

What do you expect me to say?   Do you assume I am against this decision along with the majority of articles and other blog posts?  

Well … while I am surprised by the decision by Yahoo, I am supportive and say good for them.   One immediate reaction though is the message should have come from the new CEO, Marissa Mayer directly instead of the head of HR.   She is changing Yahoo and this is one big decision she must own. 

I reproduced the staff email below.  You got to love the internet.  Employees could not wait to share this with the world.  (source: All Things D).


Over the past few months, we have introduced a number of great benefits and tools to make us more productive, efficient and fun. With the introduction of initiatives like FYI, Goals and PB&J, we want everyone to participate in our culture and contribute to the positive momentum. From Sunnyvale to Santa Monica, Bangalore to Beijing — I think we can all feel the energy and buzz in our offices.

To become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side. That is why it is critical that we are all present in our offices. Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings. Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home. We need to be one Yahoo!, and that starts with physically being together.

Beginning in June, we’re asking all employees with work-from-home arrangements to work in Yahoo! offices. If this impacts you, your management has already been in touch with next steps. And, for the rest of us who occasionally have to stay home for the cable guy, please use your best judgment in the spirit of collaboration. Being a Yahoo isn’t just about your day-to-day job, it is about the interactions and experiences that are only possible in our offices.

Thanks to all of you, we’ve already made remarkable progress as a company — and the best is yet to come.


In my support of this directive, it does help that I am not a Yahoo employee.  I can imagine that if I was working from home regularly and then told to get into the office, that would cloud my thinking on the bigger topic.

Nor am I against work from home programs.  My own staff has this available and most work from home a couple of days a week.  We have several staff members working full-time from home.  It works for us.  That is one of my points – for me yes, for Yahoo, maybe not.  It is too easy to stand outside their organization and throw rocks.  I respect them to make their own decision, based on information, observation, and vision that we, as outsiders, are not aware.

As an outsider and a social scientist of sorts, I welcome the laboratory that Yahoo set up here.  I have talked about Anthropologists in the workplace … here is a great example of why.  This is action science where an organization (Yahoo) has set up a specific set of expectations.  They will be wise to monitor it closely and stay open to the further learning.  This decision by Yahoo is not the problem.  The next decision by Yahoo is the key.  They created the laboratory.  Let’s put on our lab coats and sharpen our pencils as we observe this play out. 

Yet let me go deeper why I support this move by Yahoo.  It gets to the core of my website and writing … WeMoveTogether.  As I read the message as presented to the Yahoo staff, I see the desire to bring the staff together and create the new Yahoo.  To do this well people need to gather. 

A gathering is a challenge when people are not present; communication goes beyond voice and words.  Technology can do only so much.

Time for work.  Time for personal.  Good timing that this hit the news right after my last post titled, A Culture of Availability.  Our work lives and personal lives are blending together, especially for those of us working for larger companies. 

It is not inevitable that our work and personal time will further blend.  This culture of availability needs a significant emotional event.  Well we just got one thanks to Yahoo.  I and all of us will be watching the next steps closely.

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