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Unless you have been on Mars, you will probably know that the CEO of Yahoo, Marissa Meyer, recently announced that her staff no longer have the option of working from home. This prompted a wave of outcries all across the business and technology media, from people who believe remote working, collaboration, and flexibility are inherently good things and ought to be more widely embraced.

To see one of the world’s largest technology brands turning away from this new way of working certainly caused a lot of people to gasp with surprise.

So, is that it? With one of the world’s largest technology brands turning away from it, have we heard the death knell of this new way of working?

Probably not.

The fact is that for many businesses, particularly smaller and medium sized ones, the potential benefits of flexible working, non-office based staff, and so on, have barely been tapped into.

Vodafone recently published a survey claiming UK businesses could save an estimated £34 billion a year by adopting the very things that Yahoo is currently throwing out.

Video conferencing, just as one example, has come on in leaps and bounds and while it won’t ever completely replace the need to meet in person, it can work brilliantly for lower-priority meetings.

The jungle drums would have us believe some remote-working Yahoo staff might not have been as productive as Mayer wanted. Hence the change.

The problem then could be an organisational one, rather than a reflection on the potential benefits of a swathe of technologies from VPNs to VoIP.

There will always be businesses and managers who prefer the bums-on-seats approach to work. They want to see the whites of your eyes, and for them that’s more important than how productive you might be.

Conversely there’s a growing body of people who would rather catch up on work during the evenings or at weekends, if it means they are able to attend their children’s school shows, or however else they would like to divide their time.

Remote working isn’t dead just because it has ended at Yahoo. To think so would be foolhardy. Whether it’s a good option for all businesses is another matter.

It can be an issue that polarizes views. So what do you think? Do you work remotely, or flexibly? Would you like to, but your employer won’t let you? Or are you an employer with concerns about productivity slipping?

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Make Do

28 May 2013

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