…recently ruffled a big bunch of feathers (see http://onforb.es/15Koqf5).
Ruffling is good. I am delighted that an intense conversation about the value and mechanics of collaboration is being stirred up.
I don’t want to argue the merits of face-time versus remote-time, except to say they are both essential components of effective collaboration. My goal is to promote more intimate collaboration as we move forward in our social media-driven world. Strong communities and consistent face-to-face meeting time are vital components, no doubt about it.
However, it’s hard to imagine any successful company in 2013 would be better served with no remote workers. A culture that cannot thrive with a population of remote workers has a problem.
Wouldn’t you be willing to bet that a certain percentage of YAHOO remote workers are doing amazing work? Why mess with amazing? Find the real problem and mess with that.
Certainly YAHOO, like all companies big and small, will benefit from turning up the heat on collaboration and moving toward more intimate work. It’s not hard to imagine intimacy being diluted at a company that employs over 11,000 people.
But insisting everyone work side-by-side is like yelling to win an argument. We begin to focus on the behavior and lose sight of the debate.
What is the debate?
How do we get people to communicate and collaborate at peak levels in order to develop more intimate relationships with our clients and inside our business communities?
To understand Ms. Mayer’s argument, let’s parse her key quote:
“To become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side.”
1. The “best place to work” is far different than being in the position to best serve.
2. Collaboration is more than important, it is essential. Everything that thrives is a successful collaborator.
3. Working side-by-side doesn’t necessarily improve the ROI of our collaborative efforts.
It’s important to note that this is not unique to YAHOO. All of our significant others- employees, employers, peers, colleagues, spouses, lovers, partners, etc- are relationships that demand continual nourishment, improvement and refinement.
The defining question will always be, “How can I (we) best serve?”
Some of us best serve remotely, some of us need to be brought inside.
We must be mindful that face-time is not an option, it is essential. Successful collaboration requires us to see eye-to-eye, figuratively and literally. If it’s been a while, schedule some face-time today!
That being said, we should celebrate the opportunities that remote working relationships provide. We all want to work with amazing people and have them in our lives, wherever they and we call home.
CEO, The Delighted Company
P.S. See @dhh of 37Signals on twitter today for his passionate remarks about remote work. (not affiliated)