Trust is one of the most important things in business. If you can’t trust the people that work for you to do their jobs, the right way, then you’re doomed to an eternity of benchmarking and micromanagement. In fact, if you don’t trust your staff, then there really isn’t any point of delegating to them at all! However, when you can trust your people to do their jobs well, then things can run normally, with all the usual work delegation and management that you’d expect. By and large, the more freedom that you give to your employees, the more that they’ll be able to accomplish. Well, that’s what we think anyway. In one of last year’s most highly publicized steps backward in employee autonomy, Yahoo announced that they would no longer give workers the option to telecommute. As this week is all about Remote Workers, we thought it a great time to re-hash this news story.
While the ability to work from home has only recently emerged as an employee perk, much of the workforce, especially those in Gen Y, has grown accustomed to the idea that work can be done any time, from anywhere. When your company promotes this flexible, modern approach to the work day, you gain the loyalty of those employees that value their independence and prefer to work on their own terms. However, when you deny your employees the option to work from somewhere else (like Yahoo), you’re basically telling them that you don’t trust them to do their jobs while you aren’t watching.
But don’t take my word for it. In the memo to Yahoo’s employees, Jackie Reses, Yahoo’s head of HR, wrote: “Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home. We need to be one Yahoo!, and that starts with physically being together.” Though it’s arguable that collaboration in person is more effective, this statement from Reses is working against itself. Though he might be calling for a more unified company, completely revoking the ability for employees to work from home is a divisive move. Though they might be in the office more, you can bet that Yahoo’s telecommuters were feeling more resentment than team spirit.
Before your company comes down on either side of this issue, remember to take the damaging effect on morale that distrust can have on your employees.