Marissa Mayer, the new CEO at Yahoo made quite a splash recently when she announced some changes at Yahoo, (Why Marissa Mayer Told Remote Employees To Work In An Office … Or Quit). Immediately, people reacted to something that seems so alien and different, it truly freaked people out. What some see as bucking the trend, I see as a brilliant, bold, innovative move by going back to old school.
This baby boomer gets it. Technology is great. You can snap a photo of anything and post it on the internet and within seconds it’s there for all the world to see. You can comunicate with a vendor on the other side of the world who just finished his breakfast while you’re enjoying dinner. You can conduct presentations that can be posted as a pod for later viewing and track sales and inventory from your couch in your own home. Production issues, employee hours, vendors, other company issues and the public’s pulse all from the comfort of your device. Chester Gould would be so proud. My kids even now like to text or FB me with the trials and tribulations of their day along with their great accomplishments at work or school. However, I do expect them to actually speak to me at least once a week on the phone. If I’m lucky I actually see and speak to them face to face at least once a month. Yes, technology is great tracking family and work, but I still like to hear it in their voice that everything is really going good and I want to see their facial expressions as well as we did at the dinner table when they were younger. That’s right, right up until they went to college they were expected at the dinner table, no television, no phones, just us and some good old fashion conversation.
- So do these marvels of the 21st century that allow telecommuting really improve intra office communication? Getting specific data yes, but real communication? When the kids lived at home and I wanted to have a conversation about their day at school and if they would say, “Dad, talk to the hand”, I could see the expression on their face and the tone of their voice and knew if they were kidding or not. You can’t do that with an email or text. Oh, yes, you can capitalize letters when yelling and place happy faces if joking and all sorts of symbols to demonstrate your mood. Could you picture Alexander Graham Bell texting Watson, “Mr. Watson–come here–I want to see you.
But to me these devices also harbor a dark side as well and allow you to hide behind a veil and make comments that are not productive or conducive to solving an issue. They give you a false sense of I can say what I want because you don’t have to deliver it face to face. Even If you have an issue with another department and you need to work things out does it make sense to email that department head who is only feet away from your desk? Isn’t it better to go to their office and sit down and discuss the situation? Think of the time lost to solve an issue that is obviously important to you and now have to wait for a reply email and then having to reply to that email.What’s their work load like, have they had time to read your email and is it something as important to them as you? So you wait for that replay and you stew. What’s wrong with them, don’t they care? You have so many other things to do in the course of your day and don’t have time waiting for emails going back and forth. You need to resolve the problem or issue today! I still enjoy when people are in a meeting together in one room and there is honest discussion, but it’s done politely. The brain storming is an immediate rapid fire exchange of ideas, which generates more ideas and before you know it, you’ve begun working out a new and better product or policy or procedure and I believe that is one of the major reasons that Marissa Mayer is seeing. Lost collaboration and unproductive time.
But people do like their email and tweets. Every time I read about the possibility of robots taking jobs from people I laugh since people are already becoming robots controlled by their device. My wife and I went to dinner and sat at a table near a young couple. Sue and I spoke to each other face to face at dinner discussing several things that happened in the course of our day. The young couple sat, barely spoke to each other but were both on their cell phones tweeting, to each other? People walk aimlessly around the supermarket at their own pace as if they were the only one in the supermarket totally unaware of your presence while they play with their devices. They drive cars in rush hour traffic focused on texting about some idiots driving habits and they check in on facebook. This lack of human interaction is leading the demise of humans and the art of discussion as well as the art of listening.
So before you fire off that email or text stop and think. Is that person in this office building? Go talk to them and begin a discussion. Then you won’t be told to tweet to the hand.