Friday March 8, 2013

From TANSTAAFL to Purple Sneakers?

People who know me know of my current obsession interest in Yahoo!'s recent changes to their telework policy. I just can't wrap my mind around a good reason for it.

It's not about productivity (studies show that many people are more productive when they're not in the office). It's not really about collaboration; most people in offices talk a lot but that doesn't lead to great new products. It can't really be about a fraction of a fraction of the employees who both worked from home and also "hid". That's too small a number to care about.

And then, someone I was chatting with in Twitter made a comment that might, actually, explain things:

... [Marissa] needs to do this to weed out folks not totally committed to Yahoo!.

Think about it. One of the first things Marissa Mayer did after taking the position of CEO at Yahoo! was to make the cafeterias free of charge. Free Lunch! One of the next things she did was to set up weekly, Friday afternoon all-hands meetings.

What do both of these changes have in common? They keep people on site.

If you'd rather not eat in the cafeteria (but it's Free!), you may not be sufficiently committed to the company.

If you'd prefer to head home on Friday afternoon instead of staying for a late afternoon meeting (and getting caught in traffic), you may not be sufficiently committed to the company.

Now Yahoo! is teling employees they need to stop working remotely, "in the spirit of collaboration". If you're not willing to come into the office and put your rear end in a chair on site five days a week, you may not be sufficiently committed to the company.

Marissa is said to be irked that "parking lots that are slow to fill in the morning and quick to empty by 5 pm". A friend of mine surmised a few weeks ago that "core hours" would be the next policy change. I'm betting "core" will be 8am - 6pm.

There are so many things Marissa can do to keep weeding out people who are not totally committed to Yahoo!. She could require that every employee invest in Yahoo! stock. That would certainly show commitment. Other companies (and higher levels in many companies) have done the same.

She could initiate a contest for a company song to be sung at the Friday's All-hands meetings! (IBM had a company song.) Or she could lead everyone in spirited yodeling.

I can foresee changes to the (currently non-existent) Yahoo! dress code. First, an end to t-shirts and sandals. Then, a move to Dilbert-esque shirts and ties. And finally, "Purple Thursdays". At the very least, every Yahoo! employee should be issued a pair of purple sneakers, so that everyone knows where you work, even when you're out shopping on the weekend.

If you're allowed to go home for the weekend.

I admit that I was not "totally committed" to Yahoo! when I worked there. I'm more committed to my life, my sanity, and the quality of my work.

There's really no such thing as a free lunch. Free lunches come with strings attached.

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From TANSTAAFL to Purple Sneakers? ( in category World of Work ) - posted at Fri, 08 Mar, 21:09 Pacific | «e»

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