The Way We Work
March 1, 2013 by Jenna Weiner

oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on labor markets, innovation, and online work.

Week of 3/1/2013:

Forbes: Marissa Mayer Is Wrong—Freedom For Workers Means Productivity For Companies
Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s recent decision to revoke Yahoo’s telecommuting privileges—banning working from home and requiring remote workers to relocate to a physical office—has been quite a controversial one. In this article for Forbes, oDesk CEO Gary Swart discusses how flexible work (including online work, remote work, telecommuting, distributed teams, etc.) is not only a win-win for both companies and workers, but it’s increasingly becoming table stakes for businesses to be competitive in the future. “The future of work is flexible, and policies like [Yahoo's] are essentially swimming against the tide, making it more difficult for them to compete for talent,” he writes.

The Huffington Post: Flexible Work Can Revolutionize Your Company (If You Do it Right)
In the wake of Yahoo’s recent memo revoking work-from-home privileges, there has been a flurry of debate about whether flexible work is a smart strategy or a foolish perk. oDesk VP of Marketing Jaleh Bisharat weighed in on the discussion in her article for The Huffington Post, noting that it may be time to rethink and articulate how we attract, empower and manage talent. She writes that successfully managing non-traditional teams requires frequent communication, crisp objectives and milestones, results-focused performance measurement, a remote-friendly culture, and more.

The New York Times: Yahoo Orders Home Workers Back to the Office
Marissa Mayer’s decision about Yahoo’s telecommuting policy has raised a firestorm of media coverage, ranging from proponents applauding her efforts to create a culture of collaboration at Yahoo, to critics concerned about the precedent it sets for the future of flexible work in Silicon Valley. Claire Cain Miller and Catherine Rampell remark on the implications of this new policy, putting it in context of the larger flexible work movement. They also explore whether remote work brings efficiency and productivity or diminishes collaboration and innovation, using Silicon Valley case studies from both sides of the fence.

AllThingsD: “Physically Together”—Here’s the Internal Yahoo No-Work-From-Home Memo for Remote Workers and Maybe More
The Yahoo buzz was loud and expansive this week, but this was the post that started it all. AllThingsD’s Kara Swisher originally broke the news of Yahoo’s telecommuting ban last Friday, and followed up with this more detailed post. The article included the full Yahoo memo issued by HR Vice President Jackie Reses, which read, “Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home … We need to be one Yahoo!, and that starts with physically being together.” Swisher’s reporting and analysis on the issue was a harbinger of the media flurry to follow.

The Wall Street Journal: Hunt For Engineers Leads To Scattered Workforces
An acute ‘talent war’ in Silicon Valley has motivated many startups to expand their search for talented engineers outside the Bay Area—and even all the way to Brisbane. Finding that ‘top talent is spread out,’ more and more companies in SIlicon Valley have begun expanding their teams on a global scale. Deborah Gage provides insight into the new ways companies are coping with local hiring challenges.

The Globe And Mail: A Working World Without Borders
Are contract work and on-demand expertise the future of the workplace? Authors Tim Houlne and Terri Maxwell definitively say ‘yes.’ In this interview with The Globe and Mail’s Wallace Immen, Houlne and Maxwell share their insight into revolutionary new developments in the world of work. From task fractionalization and online workplaces to ‘virtualpreneurs,’ they discuss the key work trends driving change today.

Did we miss anything? Are there any insights you find particularly interesting? Let us know in the comments section below!

Jenna Weiner

Content Marketer

Jenna Weiner is the former content marketing manager at oDesk and was the editor-in-chief of the oDesk blog. With a background in business and technology writing, she specializes in content marketing and strategy, public relations, and branding. Before joining oDesk, Jenna was a writer and editor for Monitor Group’s marketing department (now Monitor Deloitte) and was the Business & Technology Section Editor for Brafton Inc.… read more

  • Tarek Mollah

    As usual great going Jenna!

    Couldn’t agree less with Jaleh Bisharat’s remark in terms of applying similar metrics in managing on-site and remote workforce isn’t doable. It’s a proven fact while managing remote workforce clients who assumes I have assigned the tasks and with limited communication requirements will be met and product will be delivered, end results turns out to be disappointment and blaming managing virtual workforce isn’t a workable concept.

    Indeed it’s the other way around, as stated by Jaleh …. all metrics highlighted leads to motivation, putting piece of the blocks in its right place in the right time. Thus ownership comes in and a clear sense of understanding is established between client and contractor, referred to as in the article ‘remote friendly culture’.

    Clients mindset and framework requires alignment in understanding the concept in managing distributed workforce while contractors must pick up in a fast pace reducing the cultural difference, trend and technology is acquirable via academic references but cultural difference not, only communication and repetition, tolerance and relationship building can make the process seamlessly work over time.

    From my experience with above its bound to work, eventually saving time, resources and cost for the client.