Recently in Hit or Miss’ive I commented on Yahoo’s letter to employees that halted telecommuting for its workforce. My goal of that column was to highlight what was wrong with the communications around the policy change announcement (not necessarily the policy change itself). Unfortunately, Yahoo lost an opportunity to communicate tough news in a credible way employees would respect; instead, the email cloaked in rah-rah from HR caused resentment internally and a media storm externally.
Last week, Best Buy one-upped Yahoo on the same subject. Best Buy chose a less direct approach, perhaps having learned from Yahoo’s mistakes, by announcing that telecommuting is no longer “a right,” for employees but now “a discussion.”
While the internal memo to employees is not available for Hit or Miss’ive to critique, I applaud the concepts that Best Buy is promoting, primarily manager-to-employee conversations. I’ve said for quite some time now that face-to-face communications is on life-support in Corporate America today. In my daily work with Fortune 500 companies and their leaders and employees, the benefits of face-to-face (or voice-to-voice communications) are clear; yet many of us still experience an avalanche of (a lot of irrelevant) email and there’s a reluctance to pick-up-the-phone or walk down the hall to talk with someone.
I’m fascinated by this latest “trend” to scale back on telecommuting. Reading between the lines, my sense is that telecommuting is being abused (can we be honest about what the problem here is?). Clear expectations haven’t been set about how to make this work, and leaders haven’t figured out how to lead and communicate effectively with virtual workers.
Maybe this will be the turning point.
Weigh in. I’d love to hear from you.
- David Grossman
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