It is clear to me that common sense has permanently checked out of the corporate office. Let’s take a look at two actual stories (you cannot make this stuff up) which have been in the news this last week or two.
First let us discuss the YAHOO! decision to end the employee loved practice of working from home. Under the gun to shake things up YAHOO! CEO Marissa Mayer must have been feeling lonely at the Corporate Office Park, so she decided no one should be permitted to work from home any longer. The reasons stated were that ‘employees need to collaborate and communicate with each other more often in person’. A classic public relations statement right out of the handbook someone grabbed on their way out of McKinsey & Co. one might assume.
Second we should read the various articles out there about the tracking devices, or sensors, and the study performed at Bank of America. Basically groups of employees in the call center area were tracked for a period of time. You read that correctly – tracked. Devices were on their person, in conference rooms, break areas, the cafeteria and well, everywhere. The result of the study? Drumroll please - - - when groups of people communicate and interact with each other more often the team becomes more productive!
Here is good time for a quick review. In the Marissa Mayer decision for YAHOO!, it is highly probable she determined the empty parking lot and her footsteps echoing in the hallway were enough proof something had to be done immediately. Odds are good that a million dollar study was not undertaken. Marissa, the CEO, just said to get their asses into this ******* office everyday from now on. In the Bank of America case it would be great to see the fully disclosed cost and deliverable for the tracking study. Let’s put aside the privacy issues for a moment. Seriously folks, you needed to conduct this type of study for that much money to learn what you learned? People who spend time together and communicate from closer knit teams and become more productive? Wow! Really?
The YAHOO! objectives would be met if the decision instead was to alternate days of the week for everyone with days to work from home, for those who choose to. For example: week one of the month, everyone is in the office Monday, Wednesday and Friday. If you opt to work from home that first week, you may on Tuesday and Thursday. The next week, flip the days. On the third week, return to the days utilized in the first week. Continue on as necessary. This is one example which would solve the important need to collaborate and communicate face to face.
The Bank of America tracking devices analysis and the findings would easily have been accomplished through the utilization of basic leadership practices put into place, combined with specific workshops, seminars or mastermind groups with this group of employees, over a set period of time. The monitoring of their results would be the only tracking and monitoring necessary in this solution.
Let’s now roll these two case studies into one point. Common sense has left the minds of corporate leadership. Everyone is so caught up in their meetings, their email, their electronic devices, or the quarterly results that they have all forgotten how to think clearly.
One item is for certain, if you think you are a leader and no one is following you, you are out for a walk alone in the park.
Mitch Tublin is an advanced certified personal and executive coach who resides in Stamford, CT.