A memo sent to Yahoo employees telling them they must be physically present in the office has caused quite a stir this week.
CEO Marissa Mayer has put the new rules in place, overturning policies allowing staff to work from home, with the view that to get the best out of employees they need to be “working side-by-side”.
When the news hit the media, it prompted a huge debate on the pros and cons of so-called tele-working.
So I thought I would do a bit of jumping on the bandwagon and argue my case as one of these skiving homeworkers.
Now from the start I should make it clear that I don’t work for Yahoo or for any other one company, I am self-employed.
Which puts me at a distinct advantage when not having to deal with office politics including edicts sent down from on high which in one fell swoop disrupt routine working practices.
For this I am incredibly grateful. And working for myself I don’t really have to care about HR policies that have little impact on me.
But I do take issue with the assertion that we home workers are a lazy bunch.
This line in the memo particularly raised my ire: ‘Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home’.
It is true, I have been known to work in my pyjamas, but this does not make me any less efficient or professional.
It just means I am comfortable and getting straight down to business rather than faffing about with make-up and getting my hair in a fit-to-be-seen state.
Most interviews I do are over the phone, and it makes no difference to anyone that this is done from my home study, rather than being sat in a open-plan office somewhere.
I spent years doing the commuting thing. First in London where you have to travel for at least an hour whatever distance you live from the office.
That just led to many post-work trips to the pub because I couldn’t be bothered with the journey home. Not good for the liver or the bank balance.
Then for about four years I travelled between Sheffield and London, dividing my week in two. And I can hand on heart say, that I did not slack off on my days at home.
Of course I could juggle my time more easily – a godsend when training for a marathon – but those hours were always made up elsewhere or I wouldn’t be able to meet deadlines and get paid.
Now I work fully at home – with the odd trip out to teach some students, the one bit I can’t get away with doing in my PJs.
And I am busier and work longer hours than ever before – but with the ability to set my own flexible timetable I only need to find part-time childcare for my toddler.
This does not mean I work with a toddler sitting on my knee. I do it when she’s gone to bed or is having an afternoon nap.
Of course not all jobs are suited to home working – I think we can all agree that pilots, GPs and builders need to turn up at the ‘office’.
Even within journalism, it is very much dependent on your work with daily editorial meetings and specific computer software providing a barrier for many.
But I take umbrage at the idea that just because you are working from home you are slacking off.
If anything, when you’re trying to get an article or report done, there can be fewer distractions.
Finding a sensible balance, judged on an individual basis and dependent on the needs of the job would be a more considered and grown-up approach than ‘you better all sit where I can see you so I can check you are busy enough’.