Happy Freelancer Free From Some Yahoo Ideas

by Cathy Miller

in Miller Musings, On Business

bigstock-A-goldfish-jumping-out-of-the--12762308From the land where much of telecommuting started came a shocking announcement.

Yahoo was banning all telecommuting for its work-at-home employees.

You could hear the screams across the globe.

This is why I’m a freelancer.

Productive, But So What?

All Things D posted a copy of Yahoo’s Proprietary & Confidential internal memo.

Did they really expect the memo would remain confidential?

Despite evidence of workers being more productive when working from home, Yahoo felt a side-by-side collaboration was critical.

I used to occasionally work from home in my corporate days. I was definitely more productive.

  • No meetings that should take 5 minutes dragging on and on
  • No interruptions from coworkers who are bored and want to chat
  • No overly loud discussions from cubicle land

A biggie – no wasted time spent in a ridiculously long commute. As a freelancer, I love that my commute is from my bedroom to my in-house office.

The second freedom I love is I don’t have to jump to the tune of some yahoo’s latest brilliant idea.


Businesses admit the following about telecommuting.

  • Employees are more productive
  • Employees are happier telecommuting

But, they cite studies (of course there are studies) that show a decrease in innovation when employees don’t work side-by-side.

As one LinkedIn group member astutely observed – it would be more impressive if Yahoo developed the tools to encourage the innovation they feel they lost through the physical separation of employees.

Telecommuting is the future of business. Actually, it should be the present – in my humble opinion.

Freelancers have found ways to remain both productive – and innovative.

Perhaps we should offer our services.



BigStock Photo Credit

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Jenn Mattern February 28, 2013 at 12:38 pm

My husband occasionally works from home (he’s a software developer), and it hasn’t been a problem. It’s great when we need some adaptability or the weather is too bad for him to drive in. And it’s nice that it saves an hour+ commute each way.

You’re dead on about that commuting issue. My last “normal job” before going the self-employed route involved an hour and a half commute each way, five days per week. That’s 15 hours of wasted time, time taken away from family, friends, and hobbies. That lost time made me feel burnt out. Now even on days when I choose to work a bit late to get more done, I still come out ahead. Our goal is to have us both working from home full-time after 5 or 6 years.

You’re also dead on about Yahoo!’s lack of initiative here when it comes to fostering innovation. We live in an increasingly global community, and that often means working remotely with people in different parts of the country (or around the world). That doesn’t need to kill innovation and creativity. If anything, the exposure to new ideas from different people in different places should help.

But it’s the employer’s responsibility to make sure they can handle that kind of collaboration. The fact that they couldn’t shows a lack of competence in management — not necessarily that telecommuting doesn’t work. And a tech company should be primed to handle these kinds of situations. You can have face-to-face meetings still. You can call-in. You can reach each other in seconds with email, phone calls, and live chats. You can’t blame telecommuting blindly without figuring out how you screwed up all of the opportunities to do it right.

I’d like to say they’ll learn. But this is Yahoo! we’re talking about. It’s where smaller tech companies and online services go to die, and I doubt that’s going to change anytime soon.
Jenn Mattern recently posted..Gamification: Make Freelance Writing More FunMy Profile


Cathy February 28, 2013 at 12:54 pm

Great insight, Jenn. The worst commute I ever had was when I worked in downtown Los Angeles. I swore I’d never work in LA and I should have followed my own advice. No matter what time of the day, It took me an hour and a half – minimum – to go 20 miles.

It was a huge contributor to my emotional eating, weight gain and seriously poor health. I sure don’t miss those days!

I am a big believer in face-to-face collaboration at least on an occasional basis, but in no means do I think we need to go back to old school working environments.

You are so right, Jenn, the action speaks volumes about Yahoo’s management – in my humble opinion.

Thanks for weighing in on this, Jenn.


Anne Wayman March 4, 2013 at 4:12 pm

I was so sorry that it was a woman who put that no-telecommuting into place at Yahoo… I gather she’s back peddled some… but yahoo has been behind the curve for a very long time.

Take ‘em all to the Bahamas if you want innovation. After they settle that is. An annual conference somewhere interesting can do wonders and won’t cost nearly as much as the benefits cost when you bring them all inside.


Cathy March 5, 2013 at 6:54 am

That was disappointing, Anne, in so many ways. Hey, I like that trip to the Bahamas idea. ;-)


Lori March 5, 2013 at 6:59 am

It sure made my jaw drop when I read it. That’s micro-management personified. I just hope the rest of corporate America doesn’t think she’s on to something, because from personal experience, she couldn’t be more wrong.

In my ten years sitting at this desk instead of someone else’s, I’ve been able (and willing) to squeeze more into a day than I ever did in a week while on the corporate clock. The interruptions you’ve pointed out don’t happen, and for a writer, interruptions are a huge distraction to the thought process.

I felt like saying to Yahoo! “Hey! Why not try something like Google Meetups?” LOL That’s exactly what they need to stay connected and collaborative, which is exactly the type of tool we writers are used to using to create that connection.
Lori recently posted..5 Marketing Myths That Are Killing Your Writing BusinessMy Profile


Cathy March 5, 2013 at 7:13 am

Yeah, it’s just an unfathomable all or none approach. I think Yahoo needs to get more innovative about how they can encourage innovation. ;-)

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Lori.


Darnell Jackson March 14, 2013 at 3:07 pm

It’s about trapping you in a box and making you worry about tps reports like the movie office space.

However I have to say that I’m disappointed by the new Yahoo exec’s tough words about female employees.

If a women ceo isn’t going to be sensitive to the corporate lifestyle of a modern working women then who is?

Sad truth is some people like to use some like to be used.
That’s why working in corporate america is for the birds.
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Cathy March 14, 2013 at 3:24 pm

You’re singing my song, Darnell. That’s why I left Corporate America. Of course, it took me over 30 years to do it. :-D

I was also very disappointed, as Anne commented, that this came from a female CEO – especially one who took maternity leave herself. And then to say having a baby was easy – sheesh.

Thanks for sharing your point of view, Darnell.


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