As I’m sure you’ve already read somewhere else today, Yahoo is banning working from home. This move has been met with derision as such a backwards step, but also with agreement from some former Yahoo employees. The quote that stood out most to me was this:
A lot of people hid. There were all these employees [working remotely] and nobody knew they were still at Yahoo.
What struck me was how difficult it would be for an employee of a company with an established enterprise social network to hide in this way. Their absence would be noted both anecdotally (“Richard doesn’t seem to be in my activity stream much this week”) and statistically in usage reports.
I work from home all the time, but remain one of the most active contributors to BroadVision’s own internal Clearvale enterprise social network. I’m not the most active any more, but almost everyone who has overtaken me also works from home all the time. Indeed, we consistently see much higher activity from home-workers than office-workers. On an enterprise social network you can run (i.e. work remotely), but you certainly can’t hide – anyone can see what I’ve been doing recently, simply by checking my activity stream.
I have studied this trend of higher network activity from home workers over a long period of time, and it is far too well established to be dismissed as a coincidence. For home workers, the network is our connection to the rest of the company. We depend on it to stay in touch, whereas an office-based worker gets this interaction in person. Indeed, there have been occasions when I have felt some office-based workers were “hiding” from the social network, because discussions they had in person at the office never reached the remote workforce. It’s obviously not sensible for two people who sit at adjacent desks to converse online, but that doesn’t remove the responsibility of office-workers to share their knowledge with other people in the company.
Whether Yahoo’s move is the right move for their business, I wouldn’t presume to say. But I can’t help wondering whether implementation of a good enterprise social network would be a far less disruptive way for Yahoo to reconnect with its remote employees.