Killing Remote Workers; Yahoo!’s backwards move

I know several Yahoo!’s who work remotely, so I was disappointed for them when I read the internal memo decrying a need for being “physically together”.

Once again, having a corporate wide mandate like this goes against my core “people over process” belief.

In an ideal world, a holistic team would all be co-located. No doubt. I love working with teams that are all in the same room focused on solving a problem.Many have discussed this benefit, including the likes of Lean UX.

However, life isn’t this simple. In a world short of supply of truly great talent, I go where the talent goes. Thus, we have a mix of teams @ Walmart Labs. My Android crew is together in San Bruno, whereas my mWeb engineers are all remote. We have built our processes to handle a distributed work force and I have found that:

a) Having a great team in the same building is the ideal

b) Having 99% of a team co-located with a couple of remotes is hard for those remotes, since it is hard for them not to lose out on the water cooler conversation

c) Having a great team with distributed members still far out perform a co-located average team!

I could also go into the advantages of remote teams. One of the best engineers I have ever worked with works remotely. One major benefit is that we can keep him focused on engineering. It is much harder to not get called into meetings and have distractions when they are all around.

Marisa, don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. You have some gems. Find them and keep them.

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