Yahoo has called in all their remote workers. Come June, they’re either sitting at desk in Silicon Valley or they’re looking for another job.
I’d be looking for another job. Not because of having to go the office everyday, but because they’re trying to solve the wrong problem. It seems like they feel if people are bound to a schedule, working in an environment where they can be controlled, everything will sort itself out.
Were I work, people set their own schedules. Whether they’re working from home or in an office. There are no office hours, no controls, no micromanagement. And yet it works. It works because of two main cultural values: respect and care.
Respecting the individual. Caring for the individual
Respect is not limited to treating people politely. It is respecting them as individuals, it is understanding that each person is different, works in different ways, has different challenges or circumstances that need to be dealt with. However, it is more than just acknowledging it, it is doing something about it. It is caring enough to want help.
Applying these values in a work environment between employer/employee, between team members is what makes the difference. And it makes a very important difference.
An employee needing flexible hours can either be faced by an employer who makes excuses about why it won’t work out or someone that is willing to help accomodate the employee. Helping this person out shows them that their employer cares enough about them as an individual. And if there is respect, this behaviour then becomes reciprocal.
These values needs to be applied to all aspects: between colleagues, teams, an individual’s work, the collective work, the project and on a more global scale, the goals of the company.
The culture of mistrust.
It is the feeling of respect and caring for each other, and the things we do that builds up and creates a relationship of trust.
Mistrust on the other hand emerges as soon as you ask someone to clock in/out. When you ask them for detailed daily reports, you’re saying that you’re not sure if they’ve actually been working all day. When you micromanage, you’re telling them, that not only do you not trust them, but you don’t respect them enough to be more than an insignificant cog in the machinery.
This creates tension. It leads to parties disrespecting each other. And as this happens, people stop caring. Why care about something you don’t respect? As a result, efficiency drops. Employers lose. Teams lose. The company loses. The individual loses.
It becomes another 9 to 5 job for a pay check.
Perks don't buy respect
A spokesperson for Yahoo writes:
[Marissa] Mayer is happy to give Yahoo employees standard Silicon Valley benefits like free food and free smartphones…"
Free donuts, constant flow of coffee and sodas are great. But if there is no respect, it means very little. Perks alone don’t buy respect or fulfil individuals. They are the icing on the cake. But there needs to be a cake.
Taking freedom away from people by forcing them into a 9 to 5 schedule on-site and then saying you’ll give them a mobile phone is not going to solve anything.
Care for people. Respect them. Give them the freedom to work. They’ll give you their best.