Some thoughts on the Yahoo telecommute ban

I always thought the term “telecommuting” was funny. It’s obviously a relatively new word in the modern vernacular, where you’re working at home and you do a lot of communicating with your boss via phone and e-mail.

It’s a dream a lot of people have, where they can write or do their work at home, e-mail it in, and never be stuck in traffic or trapped in a cubicle.

Except you may have seen the news that Marissa Mayer, chief executive of Yahoo, is trying to buck the telecommuting trend by banning it at the company. This has already caused a nice little sh*t storm, as well as a healthy debate everywhere as to whether this is really beneficial or not. With a lot of places you have to show up at an office, but with a lot of gigs, like being a content writer, if you get the work done and aren’t slacking off, who cares if you do it in the office or not, right? 

Yet as the, beginning in June, if you have a home office working for Yahoo, that’s all over and you have to report to the office. According to Mayer’s memo, which was probably leaked by somebody who’s really PO’d about this, she declared, “Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work at home. We need to be one Yahoo!, and that starts with being physically together.”

There’s pros and cons to everything, and while telecommuting may sound great to a lot of people, sometimes you can feel like you’re spending too much time at home, and it can make you feel stir crazy.

It also takes a lot of discipline to stay on a schedule by yourself, and believe me, a lot of writers are not disciplined people to do this. But for many people who have to go to an office every day, telecommuting would be a dream: Work your own hours, no rush hour traffic, no dress code, you can do your work in your underwear, etc. 

But even if you work at home, there’s also times you need to get out and see other human beings. Yes, you can come in contact with a lot of schmucks in an office environment, but human contact is important, even if a lot of writers can be misanthropes who are better at observing human behavior than interacting with it.

In the interest of full disclosure, years ago I worked a temp job at Yahoo, and other than the commute, which was a real pain the ass, I really enjoyed working there, and my coworkers were all terrific people. But I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t stoked beyond belief to finally land a full time writing gig after that where I didn’t have to schlep to an office.