CIO Perspective
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CIO Perspective
In the Name of Culture, Making Tough Calls
Mar 4, 2013

The internal Yahoo! memo about not working from home anymore has created polarizing viewpoints and heated debates---there are certainly pros and cons to both sides which have been discussed at length in on-line forums, articles, New Yorker cartoons, tweets, and even billboards on Highway 101


Even as a tech evangelist, I have to admit that there is something to be said about face to face collaboration and human networking.  If this was not true, we would have several Silicon Valley companies established in the "second life".


Many, if not most companies, support an occasional work from anywhere day, or even have formal telecommuting policies for their employees (including Juniper). Such companies will likely make a strategic investment in collaborative technology to connect their employees to each other, thereby creating a virtual high collaborative workspace (including Juniper). Such companies may or may not be burdened with creating work spaces in high cost locations, and are likely to have the freedom to hire employees from anywhere in the world and truly be virtual and global.


Personally, I have seen employees be very productive working from home and contributing a great deal. But I have also seen employees abusing this work-from-home concept.


Other companies want employees to show up to a work location every day, establish connections, collaborate, and contribute. Such companies are likely to invest a lot of thought and money in designing collaborative work spaces, often in very high cost


For years, people have been trying to figure out the secret sauce behind the rampant innovation within Silicon Valley. I would submit to you that one of the reasons is the high density of technology professionals interacting intensely on a daily basis. 


Let’s put aside the issue of being able to work (or not) from home and focus on driving cultural change.


A CEO must be a CEO –and along with that role, must make a few bold calls and not try to win a popularity contest. At the end of the day, a leader must decide what sort of company culture best suits the company's business model. It is left to the leader to make the call on what kind of culture and work environment will enable the fastest turn around.


History will judge if Yahoo's Marissa Mayer made the right call, but the fact is, she did make a call. And she probably needs to make more bold decisions in order to steer her ship to new territories and reenergize a brand that, not too long ago, had so much mojo, and whose market capitalization has fallen from $125B in 2000 to $25B now.


Whether or not you agree with Marissa Mayer’s decision to eliminate working from home for Yahoo! employees, she has put a stake in the ground, and set out a tone for change.

Mar 4, 2013
Juniper Employee

Numbers aren't likely to lie and when reviewing VPN log data, easier to see who's been slacking off

Mar 10, 2013
Distinguished Expert

Numbers may not lie, but they also only tell you what the measure.  Being disconnected for the vpn does not mean an employee is not working.  Many tasks are local to your machine or phone and don't require access to internal resources via the vpn.


A coder can be working for days doing the code, test and fix cycle on the local workstation.  A network engineer can spend days configuring and testing a stack for a site upgrade.  All local and no access to the vpn needed.


Productivity of workers is a managers responsiblity.  Workers can slack off in the office or telecommute.  A manager should know what their people are capable of and measure and monitor their output.


The vpn stats may help in a data point in the whole picture, but they are hardly definitive.  And for the slacker users they can also be faked by login and walk away.


Steve Puluka BSEET
Juniper Ambassador
Senior Network Engineer
MCP - Managing Server 2003 MCP - Windows XP Professional
MCTS Windows 7

Mar 11, 2013

Hi Steve, Thx for your comment. Yes, you are right in saying that the manager should be determining if the worker is adding value (or not). And so should the CEO---Ms. Mayer should be the one to decide if working from home (or not) arrangement is helping Yahoo in turnaround mode or not.