Measure results, not face-time: More on Marissa Mayer's "Get back to the office" order

Office Space/Screen capture

The great management theorist Peter Drucker wrote "What gets measured, gets managed." People who work in the blogosphere know that they live and die by the measurement metrics: posts written, pageviews per post. People who work in sales live and die by the units or dollar value sold. There is probably a metric for every job. But an "insider" told Business Insider the supposed reason for Marissa Mayer's order that everyone come to the office:

Yahoo has a huge number of people of who work remotely – people who just never come in. Many of these people "weren't productive," says this source. "A lot of people hid. There were all these employees [working remotely] and nobody knew they were still at Yahoo."

In the New York Times, Sociologist Jennifer Glass looks at Marissa Mayer's policy and the issue of "face-time" vs letting people work more flexibly.

Why are companies so leery of this type of flexibility? Managers are tempted to use “face time” in the office as the de facto measurement of commitment and productivity. They are often suspicious about employees who work out of sight, believing they will shirk or drift if not under constant supervision. As a result, telecommuting is often viewed as a perk to be handed out after employees have proved their worth.

She notes that there were many alternatives that would have been less onerous.

Were there other ways to foster collaboration within Yahoo? Of course. Ms. Mayer could have insisted on core work hours or days for all employees, when everyone works on-site. Or Yahoo could have developed collaborative work spaces off-site, closer to the neighborhoods where telecommuting employees live, to provide them with opportunities to connect to others doing similar work. Large screens to Skype in telecommuting team members for daily or weekly meetings could be a routine part of every group space. Above all, managers could focus on a results-oriented system of evaluation for all employees, telecommuting or not. This sends the message that outcomes are more important than location or hours on the job.

For every person that comes to an office, there's roughly 200 square feet of space that sits empty 75% of the week. There's the burden of a parking space or an alternative transport infrastructure. There's the time and energy spent getting between the two places.

That's why this is an environmental issue, it's all such a waste.

Tags: Work