Unemployment numbers are dropping. I am still skeptical, because the numbers do lie, and are always adjusted. In the meantime for the 12 million still "counted" as unemployed, who want to get back to work, or even if you want to keep you job, I have some advice. "Telecommuting", a term coined in the '80s and '90s for moms and dads who want to work from home to spend more time with their families, is really a gimmick that allowed you to go to your so-called "home office" and work online and on the phone while sitting around in your underwear. Do choose that route and you will be more likely to find or keep your current job.
Let me start by clarifying to critics about this: when I refer to "working from home," I am referring to people who work permanently from their home office allegedly from 9-5 each day, I am not talking about those individuals who, as their job necessitates, need to send the early morning email from home, or work on weekends or after hours from their home office.
By the way, my un-scientific analysis is that so called "telecommuters" weigh more than their colleagues who have to physically get up and go to work because they are snacking all day, and just don't leave the house! (I wonder what Michelle Obama would think of that, after all her own husband works from home!) Distractions in the office for companies that don't have strong firewalls for social media sites are large enough as it is and it is triple when you are at home and you have got the dog to walk, the UPS man is delivering the running shoes you ordered from Zappos, and the baby is crying.
Telecommuters may be happier with their freedom, but in general, the old adage "out of sight, out of mind" applies when it comes to being visible to your boss, colleagues, clients, and customers. In my second book on the workplace, Bulletproof Your Job (HarperCollins), I explain how it is easy for a boss to fire an employee who they don't see or know much about. Good managers like Mayer know the downside of "working from home" and they are finally willing to tell it like it is. More admirable is that it comes from a woman and statistically, women telecommute more than men. Let me be clear again, to all of my and Marissa Mayer's detractors, I am referring to telecommuting and working from home on an industry-by-industry and job-by-job basis. Let me illustrate: field sales people and real estate agents, authors and writers, and a number of other professionals work from home because there is some logic to that. If you have a traditional office job, however, and you are working mostly online or on the phone from home and Skyping into meetings, your company is missing out on a certain immeasurable loss of creativity and productivity. Why would a HR person be allowed to work from home, when they should be in the office with the other "human resources"?
If you're working for a mainstream Fortune 2000 company in today's recovering economy with high unemployment, your company needs you as part of the office environment as much as I feel you need to be in the office for personal career growth. All of Mayer's critics are diluting the point of her memo by giving us examples of industries where it is appropriate to work from home. She and I are talking about a traditional office job that has turned into a telecommuter job and in that context, let's face it -- it's just not the same as being in the office.
A "bravo" to Marissa Mayer, who has taken a courageous stand against the slackers who want to eat Cheerios at the kitchen table while writing a memo to the boss. You have finally been found out and if you don't want to come into the office, guess what? There are twelve million other people waiting to take your job!
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