A few years ago, CEO Marissa Mayer made the pronouncement that Yahoos could no longer work from home. This was at a time when people were hopeful that Mayer could turn the company around. Today, that hope is mostly gone, along with any vestiges of that telecommuting spirit that was once a part of Yahoo’s corporate culture.
There has been, and will continue to be much debate over whether or not that move was good or bad for Yahoo. What we know for sure is that for some people, working at home is a terrible idea. It is the equivalent of not working at all. They will never be able to handle the inherent distractions that come with spending all day in an environment intentionally designed to be something other than a work environment. We also know that other people not only thrive in a work-from-home environment, they require it. Here’s why corporations need to offer a program for the latter group:
Not Every Job Can Be Done in-Office
There is a fine line between field work and home work. They both share three things in common:
- They should only be done by people who are self-starters.
- The work is done outside of the office and away from immediate supervision.
- There are already tracking and management tools that work well for both.
Astea’s workforce management software is just one of the packages that provides all the tools to keep fields workers and company managers on the same page regardless of location, connectivity, or the device of choice. Field workers and home workers are cut from the same cloth. They share much of the same infrastructure requirements, and thrive outside of the office. It makes sense for companies to let home workers do some of the jobs that have to be done outside of the office anyway.
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MindTools defines office politics this way:
The term often has a negative connotation, in that it refers to strategies people use to seek advantage at the expense of others or the greater good. In this context, it often adversely affects the working environment and relationships within it.
A person might get momentarily distracted from a job because the dog needs to go for a walk. But a person will burn out of a job due to office politics. For both parties, the momentary distraction of walking the dog is better. The same people who had a hard time running the social gauntlet in school will likely have an equally hard time navigating their office politics.
Ironically, those people who do not do well with office politics are likely the very people who focus better when left to themselves. Those are exactly the people you want to work from home. It makes sense to have a work-from-home program as an alternative to having to let such a person go.
Beyond what is required for the ADA, it would behoove companies to consider all available avenues of getting people with disabilities who are working within for them to a more productive state. There is a good chance that people with disabilities already have the special equipment at home that a company would otherwise need to provide.
A person with low vision or mobility challenges may not drive, and could find it difficult to get to work in places without a premiere public transit system. Many such quality workers wouldn’t bother applying for a job where transportation was going to be a problem. But if the job can be done from home, they are perfect candidates. If a person needs a special computer monitor or software, why not let them use the accessibility equipment they are already familiar with and use everyday?
Jobs that already need to be done outside of the office, avoiding office politics, and accommodating special needs are not the only good reasons for companies to have an official work-from-home program. But they are three of the best.