In the wake of the recent Yahoo! memo , there’s been a lot of chatter about whether working from home really is good for employers. Yahoo’s new policy that bans telecommuting has a lot of folks debating anew this workplace trend that has been largely seen as positive for employees, employers and even the environment.
I’ve worked in offices, at home, in coffee shops and anywhere with Wi-Fi service. I see both sides of the argument here. It can be difficult to build synergy with colleagues remotely. For some, working from home requires discipline that they don’t possess. At the same time, working from home relieves many office tensions and allows workers to concentrate on tasks without frequent interruptions.
However, I think Yahoo’s gone one step too far in completely closing the door on employees who would like to work from home.
Time and again, I have found that the key is flexibility.
Even when I have worked in office settings, I’ve been happiest when my employer allowed enough flexibility for me to balance my work and home lives. That might mean coming in early one day so I can leave early another. Or working from home part time.
In fact, more and more employers have given these flexible work arrangements a try.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “in 2010, on the days that they worked, 24 percent of employed persons did some or all of their work at home…”
With many families today including dual-wage earners juggling the responsibilities of work and home, not allowing flexibility often leads to frustration. Even school-age children have myriad vacations, snow days and sick days. Few of us have access to 24/7 child care. Thus, we use our own sick time or vacation time to accommodate these needs.
When employers allow flexibility, parents can take an afternoon off, take a child to a pediatrician and make up the work in the evening or early morning hours. The employee feels relieved, the employer gets the work done and the child is cared for. Seems like a win-win-win.
The National Dialogue on Workplace Flexibility Status Report found “higher overall flexibility is associated with more employees in each group reporting high job satisfaction.”
Another win-win for employees and for employers who don’t want to deal with constant turnover.
In fact, I think most people who are allowed the flexibility to work from home often overperform in order to prove their efficiency. They get up early, stay up late and have trouble setting boundaries between work and home.
So perhaps Yahoo is doing its employees a favor. It just doesn’t seem like it.
Donna Dunn loves the workplace flexibility that Rhudy & Co. offers and sees first-hand its benefits as demonstrated by many of Rhudy & Co. clients.