Getting Your House in Order

There’s been a lot in the news, blogs, talking heads – you name it – about the recent decision by Yahoo! to bring all their workers back to the office. No more working from home.

I’ve read doomsday reports on everything from destroying families to losing top talent.

But the bigger issue is that Yahoo! has been in trouble for a long time. They’ve gone through plenty of CEOs in the last few years, and yet they’re just not turning around.

The survival of a large company is at stake here. There are over 14,000 employees who rely on the fact that they stay in business. Could they fail? Sure can. And I’ll bet there wouldn’t be a government bailout available to them.

When a company is in trouble, whether it be Yahoo! or your local ad agency, you have to step back and take a look at everything. From the way the owners/partners manage, to how every individual performs – and exactly what they do or don’t do for your bottom line.

Just because you have been ‘doing it this way for years’ doesn’t mean it’s a successful strategy in this decade (or even this year). Entrenched procedures, seniority based on longevity, or territorial behavior keep you stuck in 1995.

The ability to make changes, and for employees to adapt to those changes quickly, is imperative in today’s economy. Working from home is not a right – it is a bonus that is gained through an efficient process. That process must be well-defined and followed. Only then effective collaboration takes place.

I predict that some Yahoo! employees will leave, some will be fired, and many will come to the office every day. Change and the transition process can be difficult - but are not insurmountable.

I find it odd that a tech company, whose employees should be embracing on-going change, find that this new edict is so outrageous. Yep, going into the office seems to be so antiquated (and inconvenient), but if employees engage in this first step, they could actually be a part of the solution. Do it, contribute, and find a better way to work remotely. Imagine that.

Yes, I’ve read the stats on increased productivity when working remotely. Yes, retaining top talent is important, but the company just needs to do an old-fashioned inventory.

Yahoo! doesn’t know where they are right now, but this step – as backward (but oh-so-basic) as it seems – will give them the hard data they need to move forward. Once inventory is done, they will know the value of the stock on hand and how to sell it. They need to clear out space so they can do the improvements that ‘everybody’ says they need. Like update their site and make it more relevant.

Ad agencies and in-house marketing departments must do the same. Take inventory of technology you use, processes to manage work, and your staff. Any one of those areas can be a drag on the other two. Get those in order, set the ground-rules, then offer work-from-home options should that fit your culture.

Remember: Profits hide a multitude of sins. Do an annual inventory. Don’t wait until you’re in trouble.