Thursday, March 7, 2013

FTT Off-Topic: Morale This

Oh, Sweet Lord, Yes
Here's a moment from the news that hits a little close to home: two companies (Yahoo and Best Buy) have decided that they are going to do away from working at home in an effort to increase morale. No, seriously.

Now, I've WFH since June 2011, and in doing that, I've pretty much just traded in my 130 miles a day / 650 a week / 14,000 a month super-commute into, well, a once every three to six months plane trip of 1 to 3,000 miles. In making this trade, I've freed up enough time to get to the gym every other day, more time for my family and life, and fuel an incredible burst in productivity that's allowed me to do some of my best work. I'm devoted enough to this that I routinely stay up until crazy hours of the day, just to make sure that I continue to impress my managers enough to keep the gig. I'd like to do it for, well, the next two to three decades if possible, and to avoid the routine commute forever and ever. That would be awesome. (And yes, I know that the eco-benefit of avoiding all of that train travel for a plane trip isn't an eco-benefit at all. Damn it.)

Which means that, well, I can't ever work at Yahoo or Best Buy, and neither of those are going to hurt my dreams at all, because, well, neither of those companies are well, worth a damn to me. Especially Yahoo. Having worked in online advertising, I've had the misfortune to work on at least a half dozen projects that went to die in the Web Politburo that is that woebegone company. The best thing I could have done for any of the companies that tried to engage in that business would have been to pull the fire alarms every time the word "Yahoo" was said. We would have wasted less time and money that way.

And yet, here's the awful thing... Yahoo has so many weak hires, so much internal human cholesterol, so many zombies from so many failed ex-CEOs, that they are more or less correct to do this. As awful and retrograde as it was, it's going to have the effect of getting rid of some of the worst people, without the market-shaking impact of the 30 to 40% layoffs that the place probably actually needs.

But the problem is that if Yahoo turns itself around -- and, well, they could, it's not as if the place is valueless, especially in the spectacular demo that is fantasy sports -- this retro tactic is going to get the credit. And the chance that my little moment of cutting-edge gasoline and timewaste avoidance could continue would go to pot.

Which leads me to my final point. Thanks to the little device in my lap, and the phone on my hip, my company can see and hear me whenever they like. And because they allow me to avoid a commute, they can pretty much do that at any hour of the day, night or weekend. It also really helps that I kind of love what I do.

Commuting? That, I do not love.

So, you have the option of killing tele-commuting at your company. As a manager, that's your right, and if strong people vote with their feet along with weak, that's just the price you have to pay for having so many weak people.

But what you don't get to do is call it a way to increase morale.

Because, well, it's not.

And just because you employ people, that does not mean you get to define reality incorrectly.

Or, to make things a little more prosaic?


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