I had a bunch of issues I needed to get off my chest, and I thought using video would be the easiest way. So check out my video blog and let me know if you agree with me. I'd also like to know if you think this is a good format for a blog.
1. Did you experience any disruptions? Solar flares, or whatever they were claiming, is a valid concern. Though, wasting paper to let you know is a crime.
2. I think going from 120 to 160 seems silly for a commuter car. However, I have a few friends who do track racing, and street events too, I think they would like that option. But they all buy aftermarket speedometers that go even higher than 160. Maybe Ford's move is more of an artistic one. Where the needle sits will make people feel better about going 45? Who knows. Why stop there... max speed at 400mph. It just encourages an occasional testing of the needle's maximum.
3. It depends on the job. Most of the time, it was a waste to go into work to just sit there all day by yourself. I had to drive 1.5 hours to and from a job once. By the time I got there 7am, I had already been up since 4:30am. After a month of this, I was done. I fell asleep constantly at work. There was zero need to be there. If you do everything on your own (most engineering jobs), then staying home is beneficial. Being distracted at work is the biggest contributor to slow development.
Yahoo is struggling to stay afloat. Keeping everyone on the same page and pulling the same cart, to use come clichés, is their only option.
RE Speedometers; If your car tachometer with a 5500 RPM red-line is showing 1600 RPM when you are driving 60, then the gee-whiz gizmo makers think your speedometer should be able to display a significant fraction of that maximum theoretical speed. Remember we came from 10 years of car makers installing 100MPH maximum speedo's even though the cars were easily capable of exceeding that "politically correct" number. Telecommuting; Have we heard the whole story on this? There are companies that make you re-apply and re-interview for your job every 3 years (the average life of "new" management). I interpret this as a sensationalized report on a company re-analyzing it's priorities (glad it's not me). Sunspots; Yes, sunspots cause communications disruptions. Radiation emmited during high sun-spot activity often exceeds the design limits of the compnents in satellites and they shut down to prevent damage. Increased cosmic radiation causes changes in the radio frequency propogation characteristics of the atmosphere. Antenna's aimed directly at the sun during the one or two days a season the sun is aligned with that radio path will be overwhelmed. Also, economically, it is much less expensive to blame service interuptions on sunspot activity than it is to upgrade equipment.
I think the discussion about telecommuting and F2F communication is an interesting one. I've been working remotely for 25 years, and I think it's pretty clearly the wave of the future--heck, it's the wave of the present, especially when combined with freelancing/home businesses, which have grown hugely. Yahoo is arguing against a global trend, one that has liberated many people, including mothers, to work at home. And like Elizabeth, a continent away from the US, I have worked for publications a continent away from me, in Asia. Commuting wastes a lot of time and energy and creates pollution. OTOH, I think occasional F2F meetings in person are a good thing, but so is the intelligent use of tools like Skype.
Video conferencing is pretty much free, and this kind of collaboration works just fine, although I find that communicating through text is sometimes more efficient and here is why:
1) Each party is more likely to actually 'listen' to the others' ideas, instead of waiting for person1 to take a breath and blurting out what person2 is thinking. It is hard to listen to others when you are trying to remember what you are saying.
2) There is no need to waste time with small talk.
3) It is easy to get side-tracked when in a physical voice conversation, but easy to stay on subject with a text conversation
4) More efficient to work at home, because no gasoline needs to be used. No stress after driving in traffic and then trying to refocus on work.
5) Letting someone work at home is like giving them a raise, because they spend less on gasoline, insurance and lunches.
6) You get happier employees and less conversational arguments that waste time and kill efficiency.
7) There is a record of text conversations that can be useful in many ways.
Of course, it is important that the supervisors keep a close eye on the progress made by home employees. This can be difficult and more work for the supervisors, but overall, in many cases this work at home is a winner for business. It is certainly not something for everyone.
Why doesn't Yahoo provide Skype like service. That should be good enough for person to person interaction. And then there is 'chat' service. Chat saves me a 50 yard walk a few times a day. I know a few people who work from home and they like it. If all people are doing is processing paperwork, they should work from home. Yahoo should have been more selective about who can no longer telecomute and let the local manager decide.
I was about to post but Dave covered three of my four points (sunspots, 160 mph speedometer, Yahoo policy) exactly.
The speedometer thing isn't new. In 2000, my son bought a 20-year old BMW and the second thing he did was to replace the speedometer head with one of greater range.
One thing that hasn't been addressed is the suitability of video for the enterprise office. All of the tech sites seem to think that their readers want more video. Truth be told, it is a problem in the office. The audio annoys co-workers. Headsets bring suspicion of goofing off. Content delivery is less efficient than print. I see little value to video in the office and usually skip it.
When in comes to telecommuting, I'm getting a chance to try it out this semester as I am on sabbatical and have happily ditched the 2-hour daily commute (45-min in, 75-min out) for most days. I'm getting loads of reading, writing, and programming accomplished at home, but when it comes to collaboration, especially new product design and brainstorming, I agree that face-2-face is optimal.
I also suggest that face-2-face needs to be "optimized". The chance meeting in the hallway on the way to the restroom by your office is not optimized f2f. I'm pretty sure what Marisa Mayer has in mind at Yahoo is what has been so successful at Google -- an "office-less" office. Going into the "office" at Google means going to Day Camp. On-tap Caffeine, Sugar, and Food. Movable tables, chairs on wheels, beanbag chairs, ping-pong tables, arcade rooms, whiteboard surfaces, computers every few inches. Google, and now Yahoo are not a collection of offices or a cubical farm, but Idea Factories.
It is very difficult to contribute to the Idea Factory floor from home. Maybe someday with increased telepresence, but not currently...
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