March 4, 2013 by smallarmyjeff
Last week, Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer caused quite a stir with her “work at home ban.” The world was quick to chime in about the unfair and unsympathetic nature of the decision.
As the CEO of an organization whose livelihood depends on creativity and innovation, I agree with Ms. Mayer’s premise that the best way to promote innovation and teamwork is through in-person interaction. Technology may make communication and connectivity much easier, but it can never replace the in-person dynamic that causes true creativity and innovation.
However, that in-person dynamic is dependent upon willing participants. And, unfortunately, the ban could result in a company full of unwilling and unhappy “participants.” Here are a few things I believe she could have done differently:
1. Acknowledge that not all tasks are created equal.
Many tasks are fine – and perhaps, better – to do at home, away from interruption. Allow for such tasks to be be done so.
2. Offer alternative options for in-person collaboration.
“In-person” doesn’t need to mean “at the office.” For some, life situations may make it difficult to go to the office every day. But, what if the office went to them? Consider letting teams meet at locations that are convenient to everyone (homes, coffee shops, hotels, etc.).
3. Reward innovation.
If the goal is greater innovation, then motivate people to innovate (ie., bonuses, vacation days or just simple acknowledgement). Good people will find ways to work together and innovate, especially if they are appropriately recognized for their success.
What else do you think Yahoo! could do to address the challenge?