Yahoo!’s CEO, Marisa Mayer’s decision to ban telecommuting has caused quite a stir. If her goal was to get a lot of free press, she succeeded. If her goal was to make her employees more efficient she probably failed miserably. The issue wasn’t with telecommuting, the real issue was the lack of checks and balances. It’s hard for me to believe that employees were not logged in for weeks and in some cases months at a time and no one noticed. If this behavior went unnoticed, I am sure there were plenty of employees in the office who were playing computer games and surfing the web instead of working. The real problem was the lack of accountability and not telecommuting. Yahoo! needs to implement corporate-wide accountability system such as management by objectives or results oriented work environment (ROWE) – where employees are measured by meeting their objects and results vs the number of hours they sit in an office.
My first summer internship I was given a project to complete by the end of the summer. I worked in a basement where I hardly saw anyone, no one checked on me to see what hours I was working. My day started very early and usually ended early, as I preferred that schedule. At the end of the summer, I produced a working prototype which everyone was very happy with. I knew what I needed to do, and I got it done without my manager clocking my hours. Imagine that. I was only 19 at the time, and little did I know that my manager was way ahead of his time practicing ROWE – my manager gave me an objective and I delivered on that objective.
This was in stark contrast with my summer internship the following summer. At this company employees worked a strict 8:00am to 5:00pm schedule. Professional employees would sit at their desk, arms folded, waiting for 5:00pm so they could leave. Others would immediately pack up at 5:00pm and leave whether they were finished with their work for the day or not. I remember thinking how crazy that folks were more worried about watching the clock then getting their work done.
My first job out of college, I worked at a company that provided a very flexible work environment. It was common to see folks in the office before the crack of dawn or very late at night. This worked well for everyone until the company started having financial problems. I remember a “corporate manager” parked himself outside a door and recorded employee’s badge number as they left the building “before 5:00pm”. What this manager didn’t do was sit at the same door before the crack of dawn and see those same employees coming in really early. I remember thinking how wrong it was that employees who worked long hard hours and always did a good job were now “villainized” because they worked non-traditional hours.
I believe these examples early on in my career molded me into a firm believer in results over facetime. I don’t know about you, but I would take the employee who was self-motivated, understood her objective and at the end of the day got the job done over an employee who worked 8-5 and sat at their desk waiting for 5:00pm to come around so he could leave.
We at Panoptic Development believe in ROWE- where employees are measured on results and not facetime. Basically in a nutshell this means we believe that all our employees are responsible professionals who all want to do a good job. We strive to set clear goals and objective and employees will be evaluated against meeting their goals and objectives. Employees work their own schedule knowing what is expected of them.
If Yahoo! held their employees (remote and on-site) accountable, and put into place management by objective or results oriented workplace, I believe they would see that remote employees are just as (or more) productive than on-site employees.
Manage remote employees? Check out these 9 tips to help manage remote workers.