Telecommuting issues emerge at Yahoo!

There are may significant advantages for a company letting workers telecommute and work remotely. Productivity often increases as this flexibility makes workers happier. In today’s world, it’s important for a company to offer this option for some jobs.

Yet there are disadvantages when you don’t have workers together on a consistent basis. It’s impossible to replicate the casual environment of workers being together at lunch and around the office. Much gets done when people are together.

Every company needs to strike the right balance, and that’s what Marissa Mayer is trying to do at Yahoo!, but her recent announcement has sparked a backlash.

Here’s a clip:

“To become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side. That is why it is critical that we are all present in our offices. Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings. Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home.”

Just reading this, it seems like this could have been handled better by bring up the issue and looking at specific jobs. As stated above, balance is best.

But I suspect the problem may have gotten out of control at Yahoo! and that has prompted Mayer to take a hard line. Workers can be very productive at home in terms of how much they work, but it’s harder to keep workers focused on what’s best for the company if they are always at home.

It will be fascinating to see how this story develops.

Overcoming procrastination

We all have problems with procrastination. This is particularly difficult for people who work at home, where many diversions can get us off track.

Check out this video for a good explanation of why we procrastinate and some techniques for conquering this challenge.

Open-ended vacation policies

The lines are blurring between work days and off days, along with workplace and home environments, as technology makes us more accessible. One trend emerging has to do with open-ended vacation policies.

Unlimited paid vacation is the new trend, as you encourage workers to be responsible and take the time off they need. This makes workers more productive. The idea is a Results-Only Work Environment. Not many companies are doing it, but it’s becoming popular in the tech field.

Are you using social business tools?

The image above isn’t practical for all businesses. For small, virtual businesses to larger corporations, getting workers around a table to solve problems or implement new procedures is just not an option. teleconferencing can help, but social business tools can be even more effective.

When Red Robin Gourmet Burgers introduced its new Tavern Double burger line last month, the company had to get everything right. So it turned to social media.

The 460-restaurant chain used an internal social network that resembles Facebook to teach its managers everything from the recipes to the best, fastest way to make them. Instead of mailing out spiral-bound books, getting feedback during executives’ sporadic store visits and taking six months to act on advice from the trenches, the network’s freewheeling discussion and video produced results in days. Red Robin is already kitchen-testing recipe tweaks based on customer feedback — and the four new sandwiches just hit the table April 30.

Facebook’s initial public offering Friday — the largest by a technology company — is a watershed moment for the consumer side of the Web, but social networking’s real economic impact might be ahead as companies learn how to harness “social business” tools.

These corporate social networks can be an incredible tool for companies of all sizes. Just imagine the impact all of this can have on innovation and productivity in your company? The social media revolution is just getting started and it will impact your career and workplace as much as your personal life. Don’t get left behind.

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