Marissa Mayer Is Right: Working From Home Kills Innovation
Dogs barking, kids crying, background music from Starbucks, and yes, even toilets flushing. We have all been on conference calls with people who "work from home." Colleagues who swear they are more productive because they work from home.
Well, Marissa Mayer from Yahoo! thinks differently. She has done the unthinkable; she is making people actually come to work – at the office! Mayer has notified some untold number of Yahoo! employees that they need to report to the local offices. No more telecommuting and working remotely; people will actually have to meet and collaborate in-person.
She is going old school!
(Read More: Is Telecommuting Dead? Don't Count on It)
Now, I am the CEO of a webcasting company, and we make our living selling technology for Internet-based meetings and broadcasts. And guess what? I agree with her strategy! Online technology absolutely has its place in corporate America and should be leveraged to its fullest. However, it can never replace the benefits of face-to-face collaboration and team building.
Telecommuting, once a novelty and a very practical solution in some situations, has now become an entitlement. An entitlement that in many cases has been misused, or dare I say, abused. People need to remember that it's called "work" for a reason. With national unemployment hovering around eight percent, and the California unemployment rate closer to 10 percent, getting a notice to report to your local office is better than the alternative. If your job can be done remotely, my guess is it can also be outsourced or off-shored. Complacency and mediocrity are the absolute byproduct of the corporate entitlement culture.
(Read More: 4 Reasons Why Telecommuting Is Bad for Business)
Yahoo! needs to hit reset, and Marissa Mayer needs to be the agent of change. The reinventing of Yahoo! is as much the responsibility of its employees as it is that of its senior executives.
There is no better way for a company to create a successful culture than for people to work together – philosophically, spiritually, and yes, physically.
More of the same at Yahoo! is the recipe for failure.
Getting employees together (by choice or not) and pushing people out of their comfort zones is needed to drive innovation. Conflict, disagreement and friction are necessary for success; they are the precursors to collaboration, compromise and creativity. Sometimes you need to get in a room, lock the door and solve a problem…literally. We always muse about the three guys in a garage creating the next Apple or Facebook. Did you ever notice it's never three guys in three separate garages?
I fully expect the blogosphere and the social media outlets to be replete with anonymous Yahoo! employees bellyaching about the new directive.
There will be a media frenzy attacking Marissa Mayer's decision to eliminate what's considered an entitlement.
My advice to her is to hang in there and stay the course. There will definitely be some turnover, but more than likely, they are employees that should have left Yahoo! long ago. If the only reason an employee stays with your company is because they can work from home, you don't want that employee anyway.
Marissa, if you need to webcast your strategy to all of your remote offices, feel free to hit me up on LinkedIn. I have the perfect solution.
(Read More: CNBC's Jane Wells, 'My Day Working From Home')
Nick Ballettais CEO of TalkPoint, an industry leader in global communications technology.