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What Happens When Employees Work From Home?

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No More Working in Pajamas at Yahoo

Internet giant Yahoo is rescinding work from home. Should your firm?

Marissa Mayer, in a move to put her stamp on the culture, has abolished Yahoo’s work-at-home policy and ordered everyone back to the office. Yahoo is taking pains to distance themselves from broader national debate over workplace flexibility, and the move is seen as a way for Yahoo to fix its culture. Insiders have given a bleak picture, showing a company with a deteriorating work ethic, and work-at-home employees launching start-ups while working on company time.

Her argument for the shift? Face-to-face interaction among employees fosters a more collaborative culture.

It’s true that serendiptious meetings in the corridors can lead to new ideas, and casual conversations at the water cooler don’t always revolve around the latest Downton Abbey, but can be an informal informaiton exchange of work-related knowledge. Studies have shown that people working from home are more productive, but less innovative.

And not every position – or person – is suited to work from home.

But are these reasons to eliminate a remote working policy entirely, or mere growing pains as the national work culture shifts to a more flexible work style? Working from home may lower innovation, but only if you don’t have strategies in place to encourage innovation. The organization itself needs to ensure that remote workers don’t become isolated silos, just producing expected results. Regular meetings, interactions with other colleagues and structuring a way to share ideas across workers – both remote and in the office – can go a long way to overcoming the lack of innovation associated with working remotely. A social intranet may solve many of these challenges, especially with younger workers raised with social media.

Readers, where do you stand on a work from home policy?

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Shaking Up Sedentary Jobs: Investing in Wellness and Exercise during the Workday

HR is all about tapping the potential of every unique employee. It goes without saying – from health insurance to wellness initiatives that come standard in several organizations – that you and your employer care about the employee’s health, and his or her ability to perform in their roles.  

An increasing number of employees are already being offered perks like wellness consultants, in-office health screenings, fitness programs, quit-smoking incentive programs, and more.  

According to the corporate benefits group Workplace Options, 70% of Fortune 200 companies offer fitness programs in an active strategy in preventative healthcare and a morale booster for workers.  Dr. James Levine from the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota states that ¾ of U.S. adults get little to no physical activity daily, because of the sedentary nature of working in an office.  

Some interesting ways in which companies are embracing creative ways to get employees moving:  

  • On-site yoga and health club reimbursements (Rally Software, Boulder, CO)
  • Employee team sports like soccer during lunch breaks (Electronic Arts, Vista, CA)
  • Flex-time policy encouraging them to go running, biking, and surfing in middle of the workday (Patagonia, Ventura, CA)
  • Company gym and free workshops on physical and mental health (GlaxoSmithKline, nationwide)
  • Corporate policy for three 5-min stretch breaks every day (L.L. Bean, nationwide)  

Read the LA Times article

Image: photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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