THIS week, Yahoo! CEO Marissa Meyer banned her employees from working from home, claiming “speed and quality are often sacrificed” when staff aren’t in the office.
It’s a controversial move, especially as Meyer took the top job while five months pregnant and, it’s assumed, would understand the benefits of a little flexi-time to those with young families. Or, hey, those who just like to work with Man v. Food on in the background every once in a while.
There’s been outcry far beyond the reaches of the Yahoo! offices, with many branding it a massive step backwards for a supposedly forward-thinking company.
And lots of us just did a heavy inward sigh, with the realisation that however fancy and powerful we may rise to be in our jobs, it will always be just a little bit like school.
Somehow, it’s hard for management to shake off the idea that if we’re working from home we won’t be working at all, just sitting in a fort made of sofa cushions, playing fuzzy felts while our mum brings us Heinz tomato soup on a tray – like a sick day without the inconvenient lurgy.
How could we possibly give full attention to a conference call when we could be jumping up and down on our beds, or lathering ourselves a nice beard out of shampoo?
Ordinarily, I’d ridicule the lack of trust in employees. How can you build company morale when you assume your staff are all waiting for the next opportunity to bunk off? Not to mention the countless studies that prove telecommuting usually leads to more productivity, not less.
But the thing is, my perspective on home-working is now more than just a giddy daydream – I’m actually doing it. Once a week. Sort of.
In the new year, I started working a four-day week in the office. Not because I fancied an extra day off to polish my diamond shoes you understand, but as an attempt to baby-step my way into a freelance writing career (the weeniest of baby steps admittedly, considering I started this column a decade ago).
So far, my concession to the freelance lifestyle has been sitting in cafés with a laptop and a notebook, chewing a pen.
My latte-to-ideas ratio is stacked highly in favour of caffeine, not creativity.
And the reason I’m decamping to coffee shops is because if I try to work at home, with Man v. Food on in the background, I’ll be honest, the urge to build a sofa cushion fort and take a nap is just too strong. I reckon I need a half-way house. Make offices more like big free coffee shops, out of which we can stroll at any time, and we might be on to something.