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Hey, Marissa: Remote Workers Can Collaborate, Too

The Yahoo argument goes that if you're working from home, you're cut off. But in fact it can be just the opposite.

Unless you've been under a rock or working from home (zing!), you may have heard about the Yahoo memo heard 'round the world announcing that come July, no Yahoos (yes, they call themselves that) will be able to work from home.

Some people say it's a move of attrition; others say that Yahoo needs some new ideas, the kind that come from bumping into one another—an argument that Yahoo HR head Jackie Reses made in the memo:

Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings.

The Internet correspondingly wet itself. Amid the hoopla, Danny Rubin at Brazen Careerist gave a reasoned holler, saying that while working from home can be indeed isolating (cut to: freelancer depression), the tele-chasm can be bridged by tasteful, non-inundating communication.

How to not overdo over-communication

"Since a boss can’t stop by your cubicle and see how things are going," Rubin says, "it’s your responsibility to maintain open and active lines of communication."

He has a number of pointers of how to make your (tele)presence felt:

  • After finishing a conference call and duties are assigned, send a note to your boss and your team to doubly confirm your responsibilities.
  • If you're in the middle of a long-haul project, check in with updates.
  • Respond—quickly—to critical emails, even if only to confirm receipt. Doing that will reduce your team's "did they get it?" anxiety.
  • Similarly, if your important email doesn't get a reply, write a follow-up. If that's ignored, get 'em on the phone.
  • Get specific in your emails: You'll sound clearer, make the workflow smoother, and your boss happier.

How do you handle working from home? Holler at us in the comments.

The Most Important Thing to Remember If You Work from Home

Drake Baer covers leadership for Fast Company. You can follow him on Twitter.

[Image: Flickr user Daniel Rashid]

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  • Jacalyn

    Hey, Marissa: Remote Workers Can Collaborate, Too.
    I have been working for over twelve years remotely. Most of that time for Fortune 100 and Fortune 500 Companies.  I am offended by Marissa's bold statement, lumping "Work-shifters" together.  There are many that can't handle the discipline of the Corporate flexibility, however if you hire the right people you shouldn't have to worry about that.  Worry about your management that can or cannot identify productivity.  The slackers can be identified pretty quickly by productivity (or lack there of)  The "butt" in seat mentality is archaic thinking and definitely not   innovative.  I work with Vendors from all over the world.  Working from home helps manage my work/ life balance by keeping all the balls in the air.  I boot up early checking/responding to email before 6:00 am, getting kids up, fed and out the door for school then cranking out work (instead of primping, traffic time, small talk about nothing with colleagues that is typically gossip.) After I've done more than most before noon in my sweatpants, I keep at it. Then I pick my children up from school, helping with homework, practice  chauffeur, cooking dinner then bedtime routine all before multimillion dollar product development calls over seas.  I then follow up the day by prepping for the next.  I can assure you that my employer gets more than their monies worth in addition to helping the environment by saving the pointless commute that creates unnecessary carbon emissions.  Work-shifting  does not apply to all professions I understand, however for those it does apply to, mostly in technology, it should be respected.  Just because someone sits in the office for 8+ hours, doesn't mean their anymore productive than Work-shifters.  In fact, their work/life balance is off and there is probably resentment and guilt somewhere in that mix.  I think the biggest problem as I stated before is identifying the the qualified candidates that can actually handle the discipline.  If someone can't respect my qualifications, contributions, productivity as well as my need for flexibility then I I wouldn't be the proper fit for that organization and management style.  That statement Marissa made would have my paper on the ground ASAP.  Shame on her as she took us back 10 years.