Posts Tagged: yahoo

The Rise of Telecommuting Still Faces Corporate Resistance

Telecommuting is here to stay – and should be considered the norm wherever possible.  Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo, made waves with the telecommuting community this week when she decreed that all remote workers would now have to work in an office – or quit. This makes her the poster child of corporate resistance to the idea of telecommuting.

It’s not uncommon for companies to resist allowing workers to telecommute, even a few days a week. The corporation has valid, but addressable, concerns about time management, productivity, corporate intelligence leaks, and quality and quantity of work delivered on company time. In some cases, corporations balk at the idea of remote workers from a company culture standpoint – without the traditional water cooler moments, endless meetings and plenty of face time, remote workers can never truly feel like part of the company they work for, they argue. Setting aside the real possibility that Yahoo is using this as a cost reduction move (stealth terminations – it’s easier to have people quit than to hand out severance and go through the usual legal ramifications of firing someone) because that, in my opinion, is a whole other topic entirely, let’s take a moment to examine the idea of remote work.

I see clear benefits to a remote workforce. Less traffic, less impact on the environment, and lower corporate costs (no need for the office, utilities or the equipment in the office) all come to mind immediately. Happier workers allowed to work with more flexibility are more loyal to the companies they work for that allow them that freedom, trust and flexibility. Remote workers allow a company to have a presence in a new city without the cost of a new office. Remote workers with children are able to be more involved in their children’s lives and schoolwork and avoid high cost of child care in many cases. In fact, some have posited that Mayer’s move at Yahoo is a direct slap in the face to working parents at the company, and mentioned the bad example it sets for her corporate culture, especially in light of the bar potentially set by her short maternity leave.

Even in the face of incredible benefit to the remote worker and the company, a company may wonder how to keep remote workers not only on task, but feeling a part of the team. The advent of social tools and “cloud” computing tools, from Salesforce with Chatter and programs like gTalk and Hipchat all the way to collaborative tools like gDocs and others makes this easy. Virtual meetings using Google Hangouts, Skype or Go to Meeting with HD video all provide much needed face time, with a side benefit of encouraging brevity in meetings. Employees can even be flown out to the corporate office for real face time once a month with no loss in savings to the company over all.

With all of the benefits associated with a productive and loyal remote work force, it’s difficult to see why some companies still balk at the concept.  Certainly not every job can be remote, but such a vast number can be that it makes no sense in this changing age of work to insist on an employee being a cubicle jockey during a set time period each day.

Do you have remote workers? Has it increased productivity? How is it working for you? What are some of the tips you have for others who want to move into the future of work and start allowing employees to work remotely some or all of the time?

 

 

 

The Reports of Facebook’s Death Are Greatly Exaggerated

Please believe me when I say that I fervently wish reports of Facebook’s pending doom like this one were true. I just can’t agree, however. I think it is the wishful thinking of a tech press, sour investors and tech savvy professionals that don’t like the platform, and that it doesn’t take into account some key factors.

The most significant factor this prediction ignores is the human element. I agree that Facebook is evil and manhandles our privacy on a regular basis. I’d love to see people stand up and fight to prevent the significant changes the careless use of Facebook on a regular basis has made to our individual concept of accepted privacy vs publicy and how those changes are (negatively) impacting our society. The chances of that happening are slim to none, however, no matter how hard people like myself advocate for vigilantly guarding your right to privacy.

Completely ignoring the added issues of Facebook’s impact on how we think, our workday and our offline relationships, we can’t ignore one thing Facebook has mastered: it’s users behavior and emotional need to connect. Facebook has inserted itself into our lives in a way that MySpace and Yahoo simply never did. It’s crossed a barrier between generations that neither of those social networks were able to cross by finding a way to coexist across age limits, careers and demograhics. MySpace never really resonated with the parents or the grandparents in the way Facebook does – they got lost in the glare and blare and glitter. Yahoo never really resonated with kids past a certain age the way it resonated with an older demographic. Facebook manages to straddle the line.

The second factor that the article ignores is iteration. Many would choose the over-used term innovation here, but that’s not accurate. There is not a lot in the way of true innovation going on in tech right now. However, the company that can spot trends and iterate fastest across the most demographic touchpoints will win, and for the foreseeable future, like it or not, that company looks like it’s going to be Facebook.  The only way I see Facebook being completely gone by 2020 is if the internet (or the concept of a nextnet, whatever this space becomes over time) is itself gone. As long as we can connect, Facebook has shown a willingness (and budget) to iterate itself into our lives continuously.

Some say marketing will be what kills Facebook over time, but I disagree there also. Facebook has made it quite difficult for the average marketer of the average company to see success on their platform, and that is very intentional. They want to straddle the line of paying the bills and keeping the user enthralled, and you can’t do that as a company if you let marketing run the show (see this piece on GM for one example). Companies that play well in the pool, like Ford, see success, but others struggle, unable to see beyond traditional, limited marketing rhetoric. This ability to force marketing to act on the sidelines and to put the users into the marketing stream via stories is a third thing that will keep Facebook relevant far longer than most expect.

The fourth and final key element to the longevity of Facebook is their New York Yankees style growth plan. If they can make it, they do, and if they can’t make it, they buy it (disclaimer: Red Sox Fan). There is a lot of talent out there toiling away at various startups or under the umbrella of stodgier existing companies that will have plenty of ideas and technologies for sale to keep Facebook strong for years to come. Jut because some pundits think that’s a lazy approach, or some purists think you should create these things for yourself, doesn’t mean that buying talent or tools doesn’t work. So far it seems to be working far better for Facebook than it does for Google, a company who tends to ignore or kill the majority of the cool tech it buys.

How do you come down on this argument? Do think the projections of Facebook’s demise are greatly exaggerated or correct, and why?

 

Stake Your Company Place Online

As major search engines shift their sort criteria and search algorithms around to include everything from social graphs to instant results, how can your company stay relevant? One key way is to use location based services and mapping as much as possible if you have an office or a brick and mortar store.

There are so many options out there right now, how do you know where to start? A great place to start is with mobile location apps like Foursquare and Gowalla. For example, on Foursquare you can go to http://foursquare.com/business and claim your business. Once your claim is approved you can offer specials and mayorship deals that will pop up at specified times and can be designed to encourage repeat business or specialized sales.

Once you are done there, head over to some of the local search options and start putting your pin on your community map and listing your services. Google Places is one obvious one, but even Bing offers a way to claim a business on their maps (of course, approving the listing involves snail mail, typical of the Microsoft user experience). One thing I like about Google Places is being able to offer coupons and add images and other things to customize your profile. you can even use the new Google Tags ad service to enhance it even further.

Some other place services to consider: Yelp, which allows you to receive customer reviews and address customer issues in private via messages, among other things; Yahoo! directories and maps; Best of the Web; Localeze; Hot Frog; Facebook Places and more. It takes about an hour to go through the web and add yourself to up to ten places. The map pins last beyond that quick set up, though, and help drive people into your business. Isn’t that the type of ROI you want? Sales? I’d think so. That makes it worth the effort.

If you want to take it to the next level and fine tune your efforts, make sure all of your places link back to a landing page set up for the purpose, and then install analytics to track your incoming links. Go even further and set up campaigns and goals for tracking on each incoming service. That way you’ll be getting valuable data on the demographic drawn in to your store and site by location searches.