Okay. This blog, and many other places, has criticized Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer’s decision to disallow full-time telecommuting.

Managing any worker is hard but managing remote workers presents special challenges. As with any staff, a few bad apples in the bunch of home workers — like, at Yahoo!, the people who had their own businesses on the side — can pull down the morale of everyone else.

As the "new sheriff in town" Mayer is clearly trying to establish command. And by taking a quick glance at the the metrics of employees who didn’t log into company’s VPN, she saw some sign of company failure.

But it’s also important to realize that, telework is a perk employees want — and one employees don’t want to lose.  “In a national survey conducted among 500 Americans by SurveyMonkey, about 46% of respondents said they wouldn't be as satisfied with their work if they were required to come into the office every day,” writes Samantha Murphy in Mashable. She adds that about 6% of respondents said they would quit if they lost the ability to telework.

At Yahoo!, and now Best Buy, we’re seeing a desire to demonstrate control, so teleworkers are being slapped with a broad brush as the bad guys who are causing the problem.

Like it or not, the workforce is changing. Developments such as BYOD are all part of the mobile workforce — which may not even be in the same continent. “Your employees are not all in the same building anymore,” writes Ron Miller in Fierce Content Management. “They're not even in the same city or state — or even the same country. Chances are, they are spread out across the world. To expect all of these disparate groups to be in the same building to drive innovation so that they can white-board some ideas in the same meeting room is naive at best.”

It’s not just companies in trouble that scapegoat telecommuters. For example, people who work in the office, rather than at home, are more likely to be promoted, and more likely to be thought well of by their bosses, regardless of the quality of their work, according to a recent study published in MIT Sloan Management Review.

But instead of disallowing the perk for everyone, perhaps the best way to deal with that improving the managers, such as by coming up with metrics for measuring performance (other than “butt in seat”), and making sure managers are tracking the work their employees are doing.

If the managers are doing a poor job of controlling their remote workers, maybe it’s the managers, not the workers, who need to be let go. Think about it — faced with Yahoo!’s new policy, which employees are the ones who are most likely to quit? The deadwood who cling like barnacles because they can’t find another job? Or the motivated, successful self-starters who resent the lack of trust that ending a telework program implies? And which kind of employee is the kind you most want to keep?


Simplicity 2.0 is where we examine the intricate and transitory world of technology—through a Laserfiche lens. By keeping an eye on larger trends, we aim to make software that’s relevant to modern day workers, rather than build technology for technology’s sake.

Subscribe to Simplicity 2.0 and follow us on Twitter. If what we’re saying piques your interest, head over to Laserfiche.com where you’ll see how we apply the lessons learned on Simplicity 2.0 to our own processes, products and industry.

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