Dear Ms Mayer, I don't want to work from home

Disclaimer: I don't work for Yahoo, nor should the following be taken up as a commentary about my company's work-from-home policies. These are just my opinion about working remotely in general.

TL;DR: If you want to stop work-from-home policies, let there be absolutely no work done after 5 pm. No late night email exchanges, no after-hours conference calls, etc.

The latest brouhaha over Yahoo's no-work-from-home policy has its fair share of support as well as opponents. Working mothers are up in arms against this policy, and so are some parents who don't want to miss their kids' school plays or just stay at home one day to attend to their sick child. But as some people admit, the policy is abused more often that not. You can get your afternoon siesta, run errands, and literally run a side job/startup while putting in minimal effort for the stuff that you actually get paid for.

I would personally prefer a little more flexible policy. This makes sense: No more remote working - the whole team should regularly meet at the office and get their work done. But you have to leave room for exceptions. Let's not make it airtight and set in stone that you absolutely cannot work from home. If you want to discourage the abuse, maybe you can make the work-from-home policy a little more stringent. Maybe you need to inform your manager's manager if you are going to be working from home for the day, not just your immediate team. Maybe you can introduce a policy where a person can work from home ten days each year, similar to paid leave of fifteen days (or whatever your company has) per year. Treat people a little more maturely - let someone exercise rational control over what extent a company policy needs to be enforced.

Now, if you do have to enforce the policy of absolutely no working from home, then let's mean it. I admit - I would prefer to leave from work at 5 or 6 pm, and literally leave from work. Let there be a literal no-work-from-home policy. I don't want you or anybody up my managerial food chain to send me an email after 5 pm and expect a reply. You want 8 hours of my time? You have it. But don't expect me to "get work done", i.e. use my "meeting-free" time at home to finish that review document or finish up the code for the day. It will have to wait until 8 am the next morning. Seriously, Ms Mayer, I don't want to work from home!

Comments

  1. The comments on this ought to be quite interesting. I added up the extra hours over my two decades and it totalled to a few years.

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    Replies
    1. Yep - but then we don't always clock 8am - 5pm everyday either. Working from home (occasionally) provides that flexibility to come in late and leave whenever we need to without compromising the delivery schedules.

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  2. Personally I became a lawyer precisely because I don't want to hand over control of my time to somebody else. Being a professional has several disadvantages (including a non-guaranteed and variable income per month) but it has the supreme advantage of being in control of one's own time.

    I agree with you. Companies should not take advantage of employees' own willingness to stretch a point in the Company's favour if they want to enforce strict policies.

    For me the best solution is not to judge a person's work by time spent at work, but by output/results. If the manager cannot measure output/results properly, then either the job description is wrong/vague or the manager is incompetent.

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  3. Reading your blog after ages. In India, hardly any companies provide a WFH. Its a nightmare commuting to office spending 3-4 hours a day on the road; adding up to the congestion and wasting the natural resources.

    My company doesn't give a WFH at all. ;)

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