February 25, 2013

Ok, OK, the company provided pig pen might not be an actual prison but Marissa Meyer's sentence (I mean executive decision) to ban working at home at Yahoo might as well be one for the thousands of folks who routinely work (pretty damn well I'm sure they'd argue) from home. Whilst her call is kinda of understandable ("we're going to recreate the start up mentality of the early days when we all huddled around a physical desk from dawn to dusk etc") it is just plain counter cultural in a 24/7, always on, device ladden, global, diverse world where the best skills are anywhere and everywhere and work hours that make sense rather than reflect a different age. The "9-5" is now 9pm to 5am for many or 5am to 9pm (with non-working time interspered within that) for others. In another generation’s time historians will create apps about the odd period in man’s existence when he sat in a car or a train or a bus for 30, 60 or even 120 minutes early in the morning travelling to a place where he worked. Then early in the evening he spent the same amount of time travelling back to the place where he lived. Then the next day he did the same thing. And the day after that. And the day after that. Five days a week. Forty eight weeks a year.  For forty years. The future historian will struggle to explain to a society where the vast majority of knowledge based work occurs in homes built (or retrofitted) with “offices” (really just a space where one works) just what madness overcame late 20th century man. But I guess MM doesn't agree. It's a big call. A gutsy call. But IM(v)HO it's a call that points Yahoo facing the wrong direction and seems focused on the past of work not the future of work.