If you didn’t follow the story about new Yahoo CEO Marissa Meyer’s ban on telecommuting you might be an emergency room doctor who is essentially always working from home via being “on call” or you work at a desk for a boss who doesn’t yet own a computer, thus the plight of the fading giant didn’t register. Put another way, if you didn’t catch the part of the story that implicates VPN logs as the impetus for the ban, you honestly don’t care or have never been given the choice to log in remotely. Lastly, you might work from home every day and peered over the mound of laundry expected of you as you watched the crawl on CNN.
I’m experienced in sharing my brain to meet objectives in my pajamas, without my eyebrows, as well as doing so after driving into an office with my eyebrows and suit. I have no comment on Meyer’s eyebrows or policy, but I can dish a little about the concept of telecommuting.
I, like millions, have produced all manner of work in all manner of situations. I am not ashamed to admit that I have lived in the same Hendrix t-shirt for a couple days while painting my basement. I am also proud to be a member of that club of women who have worn their shirts inside out the first few weeks of adopting or birthing a baby. I’ve secured quarter-million grants in $100 dresses and presented to hundreds about how to secure millions. Work is work is work I suppose and I, like a lot of folks I know have produced it in many iterations.
During my sabbatical from the office, I produced a fair amount of quality work in what would at best be called passably dressed to answer the knock of a non-sighted UPS man. When the need to exchange ideas beyond email and lead meetings in person rang my bell, I realized I really wanted to get into an office. I like the change of scenery, the brand of privacy and the social outlet of it all. There is a lot to be said about communing over a common goal and receiving recognition for a job well done in person, in front of colleagues. Be they colleagues in volunteerism or in a newsroom, platitudes seem more genuine when you can see each other’s faces (and not on Skype).
As The Harvard Business Review and countless other publications cite, it is a fact that there are productivity benefits of telecommuting as part of a work week. Like global warming and hamburgers, the study of telecommuting is a real thing. Whether one devours it is a matter of policy. My policy is that too much time away from a healthy workplace erodes connectivity to an important social group. Co-workers, for all of their nutty habits (the guy who sends ALL emails as High Importance or the fellow volunteer who thinks he is always of High Importance) are important mirrors. If you constantly complete your work all alone, it’s hard to gauge if it matters or see if it might be done a better way. Peers are great for input about your output.
At this point I like going into an office maybe because I spent a good chunk of time out of one. But I also think it’s very important to have a choice as long as you are trustworthy, productive and accountable. After my stint at home, I can vouch for myself. People tend to notice feral children running around more than a late TPS report. The tardy report could get you fired, but the feral kids will have you judged at the coffee shop. You decide which is worse. Now excuse me while I put on my eyebrows.