The Skeptical Methodologist

Software, Rants and Management

Marissa Mayer is a fool

Much ado about something has been making the rounds this week regarding Yahoo!’s new work-life policy. Their new Hail-Mary-pass CEO, Marissa Mayer, formally instituted a policy that bars remote work. This makes no sense to me – with Yahoo! suffering in such dire straits right now, it is hardly the time to be giving out perks like more time at the office horsing around with your buddies.

Sure, sure, people at the office claim they are more productive, though I’ve yet to see numbers to prove it. All the more likely, the little social butterflies just like the chit chat and slacking off around the water cooler. I’ve heard the standard argument – “If I have a problem that a simple Google search can solve, why open up a web browser on my remote laptop when I can distract a co-worker?” I agree, it is a really easy way for you to keep from getting ‘blocked’, but you just end up gumming up someone else’s work flow.

Yahoo! needs a diet, some have argued. And working from the office is just another perk to add to the overbearing costs this company is already facing. Yahoo! is not Google, it can’t afford office perks like Google can – it needs to simply be more hardnosed about things: work remotely until it’s truly in the shareholders interest that people start coming in to the office.

It is clear that… Wait a second. I’ve just been informed that the reduction in remote work was a naïve attempt to improve productivity, rather than a perk for lazy extroverts and people who can’t work without hand-holding.

I… I don’t know what to say. I suppose, when I heard that Mayer used her luck and fortune to build a nursery next to her job, she could only be thinking of extending the same perks to her employees. I guess we know where her priorities lie, and they don’t appear to be with the stakeholders at Yahoo!. I can’t say I’m surprised; Mayer has absolutely no experience as the head of a company, was bred in the culture of Google which makes bad decision after bad decision all financed by that one good decision they made early on, and has no credentials as a turnaround artist for a company whose revenues have decreased every year for the past 5 years (small blip last year was hardly a rounding error). What did people expect?

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February 27, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Don’t work for Thomas Chamorro-Premuzic

Care of HBR, Dr. Tom argues that we should all be embracing work life imbalance. I don’t want to put on my Freudian deconstructionist hat, but I have a feeling Dr. Tom is using a blog to win an argument with his significant other who’s wondering why he can’t be home on time for dinner. He might also be cheating on them. Because… well, why can’t he be home for dinner on time?

Let’s pick apart his arguments one by one, shall we?

Hard work is not at all a career weapon

First off, framing this argument in terms of what ‘weapons’ you have at your disposal belies Tom’s combative view towards work. We all have ‘weapons’ to get ahead. Why Tom argues that we need weapons when we should be enjoying work is beyond me.

The fact of the matter is, when it comes to career  ‘weapons’ is that no, we are not all equally smart or qualified to do a job. Jobs in the technical – and increasingly other – fields are constantly changing, which means their qualifications are constantly changing. Moreover, how smart you are at a job is not an innate skill, but a process. You must constantly stay educated in your field on new techniques, as well as mastery of old ones.

Hard work, to me, is a sign you have no better ideas. It’s the weapon of last resort, because after you’ve used it, you’re too tired to come up with any way to be more productive.

Engagement is important, but a rich life is more important

I agree, at least in spirit, with Dr. Tom’s notion that we should all be enjoying work. Work ought to be fun. But there is fun that just isn’t going to happen at work – work won’t give you children, it won’t give you companionship, it won’t give you culture. It you can find a job where you get the opportunity to watch witty independent comedies or play a few games of halo with your college buddies, let me know. Otherwise work will always be lacking in one or more dimensions of what it means to be human. What we create, as individuals, can be part of a fulfilling life. But it can only be part!

The reason why it’s so hard to stop checking your smart phone is because you’re rude

Simple as that. It’s not that life used to be boring, or in this case, apparently Dr. Tom’s friend he hasn’t seen in years is very boring. It’s that you are boring: you who keeps your chin to your chest quickly thumbing away at a tiny keyboard arguing over word smithing some TPS report.

Smartphones and texting are relatively new. Mores and culture have not caught up, but they are doing so quickly. It is rude to ignore your conversation partner and text, just like it’s rude to burp in their face, even though it’d be nice to not have to worry about that. Don’t be a dick.

Using your psychological and academic credentials to justify your lack of work life balance is a self indulgent act

Those who are complaining in this era of ever extending hours yet ever shrinking productive use of those hours by Baby Boomer managers who barely swing 40 hours and spend most of those 40 hours reading the Wall Street Journal at their desk are on to something.

If you find yourself attracted to Dr. Tom’s arguments, I implore you: get a dog.

February 14, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment