By now, we have all heard the news about Marissa Mayer’s (Yahoo! CEO since July 2012) decision to end the telecommute privileges for Yahoo!’s employees. Of course, some people think this is harsh and others think she is making the right move. My boss gave me feedback one time that I was too “black and white” about many issues. I actually accepted that feedback as a gift and learned to look at things from differing perspectives. While I am a fan of telecommuting, I don’t want to judge Marissa’s decision until I have walked a mile or two in her shoes. After all, she did inherit a company in dire need of a turnaround.
What I do know is that simply requiring workers to be onsite will not fix any problem in and of itself. Presence does not equal performance. How many of us have coworkers who have “butts in seat” for 40 hours or more per week and accomplish very little? We all have our stories. The real challenge is making sure people know what they are responsible for achieving, and then holding them accountable for results. Whether they are in the office or not – results are what matter!
A Results Only Work Environment (ROWE) is a management strategy that focuses on the results and not presence. Isn’t that what we are really after? ROWE employees are engaged because they have freedom to keep work and life in balance, and they know what is expected of them.
I first read about ROWE in Daniel Pink’s best selling book “Drive” and then went on to read Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson’s book “Work Sucks and How to Fix It“. Cali and Jody pioneered the ROWE movement and Best Buy was one of the poster child examples of how a ROWE can work. But after Yahoo!’s announcement, Best Buy followed suite with a similar announcement that they would end their work-from-home program.
It doesn’t make sense to try and the link the success or failure of a company to it’s work-at-home policy. It does make sense to review the company’s strategy, focus, branding, and execution. And just maybe you do need all hands on deck to accomplish this. Regardless, results should still be the measurement of an individual’s contribution to the turnaround, and that is what ROWE is really all about.
I actually commend the idea of shaking things up to let people know it is not business as usual. But I don’t think that it is fair to change the rules of engagement for employees who were truly committed to Yahoo!’s success, especially those who will have a hardship complying with the new rules. Blanket policies punish everyone and do not fix the underlying disease of poor strategy, execution, management, and individual accountability.