Command Performance — Coming Back Into the Fold

The CEO of Yahoo! shook up the telecommuting world this week by requiring everyone who works for the company to come back into the office. No more working from home. Creative types, introverts and working moms alike are outraged. Some see it as an attack on feminism, while others think it will decrease productivity.

But here’s a dirty little secret about telecommuting: once you have telecommuted, you feel entitled to this work option, and it seems like it’s your decision. Except that it isn’t. Yahoo! sorely needs to reinvent itself, and that is not going to happen until everyone comes together and re-innovates. Sure, the company may lose workers between now and June when the edict takes effect, but those people who jump ship probably weren’t all that loyal, all that dedicated to Yahoo! anyways. And yes, it will be a shock for those returning to the office. But the creative spark that occurs when people meet up to work together may well be worth it.

Another dirty little secret about telecommuting: It not as fun as it sounds. The line between work and personal life begins to blur when you work from home. You are “always at the office.” There’s “always one more thing that needs to get done.” Work is vying for your attention when you walk by your home office even when you are not on work time. And while cubicle co-workers can be annoying, sometimes it is that interaction that pushes you out of procrastination or your writer’s block.

Maybe a combination of telecommuting with periods of mandatory office attendance can keep companies from getting stale and workers from being bored. The ban on telecommuting at Yahoo! probably won’t last forever. It will be interesting to see what comes out of this.

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