Thursday, February 28, 2013
#59 / Working From Home
And a decree went out from Marissa Mayer (the still relatively new CEO at Yahoo) that all Yahoo employees should come into the office, and work from "work," instead of remotely from "home."
That's the news story. As might be expected, this executive order has caused great consternation among the punditry. While Scott Herhold, columnist at the San Jose Mercury News, is sympathetic, other news pundits (like Mike Cassidy, also from the Mercury News) are quite a bit less so. Cassidy, in fact, calls Mayer "superrich," and suggests that her edict on remote working probably seems appropriate to Mayer only because of Mayer's elevated economic status.
Back to the news story. The Yahoo directive opines that "speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home." And some academic professionals, like Joseph M. Pastore, a professor at Pace University's Lubin School of Business, say, "it's nearly impossible to supplant the basic unit of communication in an office setting ... Most of life's experiences are human experiences...."
Let me divert your thinking right there, and address another topic: democratic self-government. One our our major "work assignments," as citizens, is to participate in the functional direction of our society by getting engaged, ourselves, in the political life of the community. This "work" ultimately creates the world in which we most immediately live.
I do not think that "democracy" or "self-government" can be done "remotely."
It's all good and well to fire off letters and engage in petition drives from the comfortable chair in front of our computer screens, but if we want "quality" politics, we need to have that person to person contact that is, indeed, the "basic unit of [human] communication."
Guess I am coming down on the side of Marissa Mayer, whether she is "superrich" or not. In the action arena I care about most, the arena in which our "work" is defined by taking political control of the decisions that govern our society, there is no substitute for face to face personal involvement.
Democracy doesn't work in "remote."