Ever since Marisa Mayer (Yahoo!’s CEO) demanded that all work-from-home employees now be present in the office starting this summer, the Internet has been ablaze with articles and opinions on the matter (most of them disagree with her actions). And since I have a blog, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to add my two cents to the discussion.
Working from home, in my opinion, is a privilege. Unless you’re self-employed, then it’s just a means to an end because maybe you’d like to have a separate office somewhere but it’s more cost-effective to stay home. But if you’re a parent who’s trying to have the career, save money, AND be a present parent, then it’s definitely a privilege.
I don’t fully agree with Mayer’s decision, but I’m also not the CEO of Yahoo! and I highly doubt it was an easy decision for her to make. I also don’t buy that it was a decision based purely on the assumption that all of the remote workers were unproductive. I would speculate it had more to do with trimming the fat without forcing layoffs, and putting a very public focus on profitability for shareholders. And in the instances where productivity was the issue, I would fault bad management. Besides, if you’re a company trying to model yourself after the Yahoo! as it currently exists, you’re probably doing it wrong anyway. Ahem.
But here’s where even I surprise myself: I don’t think it’s a bad move to require employees to check into a brick-and-mortar establishment once in awhile.
It’s no secret that I have a moderately flexible work schedule. I’ve been with my current company for nine years now. I think I’ve more than proven myself responsible and have showed my dedication to my workplace. So shortly after I came back from maternity leave, I worked out a schedule that allows me to work from home one day a week. And that day is flexible depending on what I have going on in the office. I still have to get my hours in and I still have to be available and responsive, just like I would be at the office. But instead of taking a Starbucks break, I can go play blocks with my baby for five minutes. My husband is self-employed and works from home so he’s still in charge of things when I’m home, but if he has to go to a meeting, he basically gets one day a week to do outside-of-the-home things. One day a week doesn’t seem like much, but it’s made all the difference in my job satisfaction, and my husband’s satisfaction with our childcare arrangement.
I read a blog post today that dispels the fantasy that working from home is the greatest thing ever, and while I know some of the article was meant in jest, a lot of it was very true. Although I have to say that while I have worked in my PJs before, I still usually get up, take a shower, and get ready for the day like I normally would. I just don’t put on makeup or shoes, but I still wear a bra and clean clothes. Nor do I sit on my couch in front of the TV. I’m usually at the kitchen table in silence, with my phone and notepad at the ready, and my work IM open at all times. The baby and my husband are typically downstairs, or I will set up a mini desk near the baby’s play area if my husband needs to go out for a meeting. I take frequent breaks, but if we’re comparing productivity, I’d say I’m just as – if not more – productive when I work from home. Mostly because I know it’s a privilege and I don’t want to screw it up.
So here’s what we know. Working from home all the time isn’t really a good thing. But not necessarily for the productivity concerns Mayer cites (though I’m sure those exist). The isolation, the mom guilt, and the inability to escape your work are just a few. And working at the office full time, all the time, with no flexibility isn’t a good thing either, for a multitude of reasons (though for a lot of employees, they simply don’t have a choice. You can’t be a truck driver from home, you know. Or be a receptionist for a doctor’s office out of your living room.) But for those of us in fields that just require a laptop and an internet connection, a schedule that allows for both at home and in office work days is the best of both worlds. I wouldn’t want it any other way.*
Do you have a flexible schedule? Do you work from home all the time? I love hearing other perspectives and experiences on the subject.
*Okay so maybe I would want to win the lottery and live in a mansion on the beach and be a SAHM, but unless I can have it THAT way, then I’m perfectly content with how things are right now.