Work From Home

How Yahoo Could Have Made REMOTE Work

You can bet Yahoo remote associates' jaws dropped when they learned of the restrictions being imposed by new CEO, Marissa Mayer – baring them from taking advantage of the often time-saving, productivity boosting practice of working remotely. Employees were advised to tuck away their casual wear, find a caregiver for their loved-ones and tune up their gas-guzzling vehicles to head back into the office by June 2013 or Option 2? Find a new job.

Undoubtedly, Yahoo suffers from poor management tactics – which reach far beyond the realm of the company's virtual workplace. That could have the reason why, having just taken the reigns in July 2012, Ms. Mayer elected to terminate the program. Consequently, while the company may make some short-term strides in productivity, it will lose out on certain organizational advantages that come with a remote workforce. For instance, remote work programs traditionally translate to reduced infrastructure and operational costs – allowing valuable dollars to be directed elsewhere.

The most unfortunate aspect of Yahoo's news is the company's 1600 work at home associates were probably not at fault for the lack of productivity and disengagement cited for this bold leadership decision … at least not in full. While remote workers are encouraged to be intentional about staying visible, no remote worker or virtual work team can successfully maneuver the halls of a remote workplace absent purposeful communication and clear-cut expectations from its leaders. to reduced infrastructure and operational costs for employers.

In general, work at home professionals are more productive than their office-based counterparts. In a 2012 Harvard Business Review article entitled Why Remote Workers are More Engaged, Organizational Consultant Scott Edinger reports that remote workers make better use of available technology tools and tend to maximize their time with greater efficiency than traditional office workers.

So what could Yahoo have done differently?

Mayer could have identified internal occupadors to turn around the Company's fledgling remote program. Doing so would have boosted employee morale and afforded the tech giant opportunity to re-gain a cohesive and collaborative culture without coercing flexibility, which by the way (according to a Future Workplace study " Multiple Generations @ Work" ) is the number one benefit quoted by Gen-X and Gen-Y workers today.

She could also have required those leaders tasked with leading a virtual work team to implement three smartly executed directives:

Clearly Define Team Objectives

Work with remote associates to establish clear ties to their work teams and then engage them in exercises to emphasize why the virtual team exists. Whether it's to accomplish a particular project or for the overall success of a department, the answer to this basic question can help define and clarify both individual and team measurable to meet the team's overall purpose.

Communicate Expectations

Once roles and objectives have been defined, leaders should be meticulous about communicating expectations. Assume nothing. Spell everything out in black & white and know that sending an e-mail is not enough! Remote associates must be exposed to consistent reinforcement of team objectives along with company values, practices and goals.

Reinforce and Reward Collaborative Effort

Develop systems and processes that align with the team objectives, allow for checks and balances and collect information needed to gauge program effectiveness. Data collected from these systems provide the measurables needed to identify gaps and make smarter decisions relevant to reinforcing positives and funneling out opportunities.

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