To make things fair, we really wish this blanket policy at Yahoo was put in effect, axed all remote arrangements, and reevaluate their remote arrangements on a case-by-case basis and bring fairness back without individually discriminating.
The reports of 'Yahoo is all against telecommuting' do not tell the entire story and are taking advantage of sensationalist headlining. Telecommuting works when everyone has a certain level of discipline, as it's far too easy to take advantage of and end up being complacent. Places do exist that essentially issue paychecks just because you're an employee in the system. I wouldn't be surprised to know far too many Miltons from Office Space are out there.
"Our entire team knew they were doing very little work"
New management cannot simply take the incumbent on-site team members' word for it that it's all the fault of the remote guys. Which is probably part of what's happening at Yahoo.
Also, the words "the entire team knew" are a big red flag. Any team of responsible adults would have confronted the issue already. The fact that they haven't indicates that there is much more going on than just a two rogue remote workers.
You're saying people having a household with kids can't be productive employees?
When at home, if I feel the a distraction looming, it's easy to shut the door. Problem (mostly) solved.
However, I was specifically replying to the context of having distractions (kids, in this case) in gcp's and alistairSH's comments.
For all we know, said employee was paying alimony for them.
Often the companies that do this are the ones with the most liberal work-from-home policies, IMO.
Is this to suggest that he'd been there from the beginning of the project and yet hadn't even checked out the code, let alone committed any work?
Also, if he hadn't been committing any changes at all from the beginning, I would think the manager would be calling him up asking what in the world is going on.
I'm sorry, but there's almost no reason to have customer support folks on site. It usually also costs the employer considerably more money to have them on-site. I can't say this with any certainty for Yahoo, but this move is commonly done with remote support workers as a stealth layoff. One of my coworkers has had this done to him three times already (by Mcafee, Microsoft and others). I've seen financial companies do it by relocating their IT support from NY/NJ to places like small-town central Ohio (I'm looking at you, JPMC).
The idea here being that it would cost Yahoo less to have some estimated percentage of people work out of the office versus having to pay the increased unemployment insurance rate based on the number of claims they'd have after a mass layoff. That and they can layoff a bunch of people without it being announced as a layoff.
Companies that hire remote staff have a tendency to attract people whom for medical/disability reasons cannot work in an office -- they're the real losers here.
Yahoo hasn't announced any financial relocation support for anyone moving to work from the office. I find that pretty telling here.
I'd wager remote working returns later on in the Yahoo! story, and that the folks working from home right now are just being shoved overboard for lack of productivity.
I mean, if a Guido or a Gosling shows up and wants to work at Yahoo!, but wants to be remote, I'd bet they make an exception.
Right now, Yahoo! people are probably used to hiding their lack of productivity, rather than producing cool software. It tends to happen in dying orgs. Getting everyone together for a while might help!
And frankly, I don't worry about Marissa at all: she has one HUGE advantage over every other CEO in the world: she understands how software is built, and what is required of the people who build it. I don't think any other CEO in the world understands that kinda stuff.
> I don't think any other CEO in the world understands that kinda stuff.
Larry, Zuck, and Tom Preston-Warner, among others would likely take issue with that last sentence ;)
My guess is that given that Marissa is so data driven (to a fault - eg. the thousand shades of blue on the Google ad links as an example) that if she had had this data she would have shared it.
No, its obvious to me that this was a "we did it like this at Google and Google was successful" move without data.
Would that happen? I don't know. But I'd call it a safe bet that the lawyers are afraid of it. They could be driving a decision not to share data.
Gourmet chefs in the company restaurant, free massages and 25% pay raises for everyone? Fair deal (if working at the office is practically an option).
(That's part of why I ended up at Mozilla. No two of my immediate teammates even live in the same state at the moment.)
(I'll delete this comment if your wording is clarified via in-place edit...)
How much experience does everyone have of remote working? My experience outside of tech is that it gets used to enable daytime shopping, social activities and other such.
In the industry I've not seen the practice abused, but then it is also rarely offered, usually under the guise of naive security concerns...
I would love to work from home... then I could move somewhere cheaper. Its a fantastic luxury, and it won't attract the best in the same way that not being a tech giant will anyway... ;)
You can indeed shift some activities that normally happen after work (and the two you mentioned are very typical) to moments during the workday, when such venues are much more quiet. This saves you time. In my case (and current job) it is also more interesting to work late in the evenings because I have to coordinate with a team in the Valley, which is far away from me timezone-wise.
The time you save commuting is 100% won, either for your personal use or to work more for your employer/customers. This can be very substantial.
Offering remote work isn't as easy a saying everyone can go home. You need management that understands what the employees are doing and can judge their output. You need infrastructure such as a secure chat and reliable videoconferencing. The latter is for some reason very hard to get right. You also need a good mindset that doesn't treat remotes as the exception, so you need either teams that are substantially remote, or managers that are remote.
If you're working remotely, you need to deal with things such as potentially being lonely (I have friends on IRC, which are essential to keep me sane, other people go to co-working spaces or go grab coffee, etc), the risk of slipping sleep/work cycles, and good separation of work/home time (this is tricky, but my social life seems to be OK :P).
I've found IRC just as conductive to getting into the company atmosphere as an office. It depends on the employer though. At least on IRC you don't risk sharing the office with the most boring people in the company. You can also regularly have real-life team meetings. My experience is that during those nothing gets done (exactly like working in an office j/k) but you can get to know your teammates a teeny bit better.
Productivity-wise, the advantage of working from home is that you can keep on going if you're on a roll. You'll have bad days too, just like you can have bad days at the office.
So: the downsides is that the company needs to invest a bit in this, and have a setup that's workable (enough people remote!) with a management and IT that can cope with this, and that it doesn't work as well for everyone.
The upsides: you have much more latitude in hiring people, and you win the commuting time.
When I worked for a midtown NY hedge fund, they made sure to remind us on a regular basis that just giving us a desk with a computer and power cost the company $2000/month.
Which is worrying. If Yahoo really wants to attract top talent again, at the very least they would have spun this better. Now there is only a leaked (surprise) internal memo and a complete lack of control over the story, which means they either don't give a damn or they had no clue.
Neither explanation speaks in favor of Yahoo, even though the decision itself might be a perfectly good one.
For most of us Yahoo just earned extra points in the "places to avoid working for" column. Not because of the decision to call in remote workers, but because they apparently don't understand what it looks like to those people they actually want to attract.
But this is the issue I take with the article and the action from Yahoo - remote working isn't a "it does/doesn't work for them/us" type of thing. Remote working either does or does not work, and you are either doing it correctly or doing it incorrectly. Since there is evidence out there that shows that remote working can be just as effective as in-office working (and, in many cases, more effective), I'm left to assume that Yahoo was just doing it wrong.
I do not believe that the concept of remote fluctuates in its performance so greatly - the concept is sound. It's the implementation that is flawed - implementation at companies like Yahoo. There are ways to do it right, and there are ways to do it wrong; Yahoo chose the latter.
So, now the problem is this: when you find that your company has been failing at something, do you try to fix it or do you choose to cut it? Many things that Yahoo has been failing at, in terms of business, have not been cut. Instead, they're trying to fix them. When it comes to benefits for the employees, however, they're more than willing to cut those benefits.
In my mind, the correct action isn't to cut the remote working program, but to find what you're doing wrong and fix it. Cutting the program is only going to demoralize employees and make the company seem less desirable to future talent.
If I had to guess this policy is less about the full time remote employees as it is removing excuses for the 40%+ of Yahoos on the 3-days-week schedule.
Of course we don't know the exact reasoning behind the decision nor whether they have metrics to back it up. That is obvious and is the always present caveat whenever there is a discussion about a decision that people weren't directly involved in making. So we are always left to make judgements from outside the box.
So unless Brennen knows something specific he isn't sharing I am going to continue believing that either (a) this is a dumb decision which shows a lack of understanding about how software development works or (b) this is a smart way to reduce headcount without reducing morale.