Written by Michael Smith on the 27th of February, 2013

Image courtesy of Feliciano Guimaraees CC2.0

The new chief executive Marissa Mayer of Yahoo is thought to be behind a memo this week issued by human resources banning staff from working from home. "Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings," the memo said. "Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home."

Similarly, Google’s Chief Finance Officer Patrick Pichette when asked how many of his people telecommuted replied glibly ‘as few as possible’.

So is this just about a bunch of suits coming in from ‘corporates’, throwing their weight about and attempting to get their organisations on a tighter leash? Lets give it some thought...

A word from a forward thinking business guru.
Richard Branson (a man with a track record of using innovative ways of working to get the best from his business investments) has called these moves ‘a backwards step in an age of when remote working is easier and more effective than ever’.

OK, he spends a lot of time working from the veranda on his island in Necker so he ain’t gonna diss it!

What’s the problem with working from home?
Sure, there is a balance that has to be got right. Notably if you are a line-manager or need to be managed. But for some people and even a growing business, it can be hugely beneficial.

For a startup with not a huge amount of cash to play with, the opportunity to operate, collaborate and work from home can be a cost-saving. Even when you start to make profit, to suddenly have to pay for furnished office space and all its associated costs can make you feel like you have just taken two steps forward and three back.

Some people are best kept out of the office - yes, I am talking about salespeople. Why drag them to Head Office or a designated service station on the M1 once a week if you can meet them in the ether once a week on a Google Hangout? They can prepare properly, keep motoring expenses to a minimum and prepare properly during the time when they would normally be stuck in a tail-back.

So how can we interpret Yahoo and Google’s executives stance?
When I read it, I was astounded. A little bit of a Gerald Ratner moment for Google in particular. It was a bit like waking up and discovering that David Attenborough had taken up whaling in his spare time. Presumably, its about new brooms sweeping clean in the case of Yahoo and exactly what we would expect from a bean-counter in the case of Google.

Why the shock and surprise?
Well, there are a huge amount of positives and great things that have fallen out of the way in which organisations like Google have evolved. Its quite evident in the design and delivery of Google Apps for Business, the concept of Single Sign-On and all of the beautiful services that can be bolted into this wonderful solution...it’s tailor-made for home-working. Patrick Pichette, please take note.

Thanks for making it easy to work remotely.
One of the biggest turn-ons for our clients is that they can be more flexible in the way they work. Collaboration tools, video conferencing and hangouts, device agnostic access from any old wifi access point or just tethering from your mobile.

So the next time you come out of the cave and are asked to make a comment..
Make sure its Larry or Serge and not someone from Finance because you have huge fan base of SMB users out there who love remote working with Google courtesy of authorised resellers like Appamondo.

Michael Smith

Citations; BBC, Teleworking, 2013

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