Archive for the ‘workplace’ Category

My Thoughts on Yahoo’s Decision to Ban Telecommuting

February 27, 2013 Leave a comment

My thoughts on the Yahoo! CEO’s decision to ban telecommuting –

Marissa Mayer’s perspective that building a strong culture of communication and collaboration is something that happens much more effectively when team members are physically in the same location is something I know from experience to be true.  “Water cooler” conversations have a big impact on the collaborative culture of a company. It’s a place where random conversations can generally turn into productive, problem-solving sessions; especially when working on a high-functioning team.  If the team is dysfunctional in this area it takes hard work to overturn the current culture in order to establish a new culture.

For several understandable reasons Mayer has issued a strict ban on telecommuting effective June 1, 2013. But, I do Telecommuter Malehope in time she will relax the strictness of the policy a little as Yahoo! begins to see the outcomes needed to remain competitive. Personally, I’m a Yahoo! fan; I prefer it’s interface, intuitiveness, and productive use much more than I do Google’s; but I cannot deny that Google is much more creative and innovative than Yahoo!.  These are traits you see in highly collaborative work teams. Perhaps this change will help Yahoo! in this area.

Considering all of Yahoo’s current product failures and it’s inability to hire and manage the talent needed to remain competitive, we’re short-sighted when we choose to see this ban as an all out attack on telecommuting. Clearly the rampant abuse and overall lack of oversight and performance management is a systemic issue at Yahoo. It’s killing the company at large. Someone with strong leadership had to step up and tighten the reins, to weed out problem employees and rebuild a functional workforce. Sometimes in the weeding-out process you lose valuable team-members. But to continue on the path to corporate self-destruction would be more devastating in the long run. They have many performance and management issues at Yahoo; this is just one step in cleaning up shop. I believe the ban will be lifted in time.

On the flip side, this move will cause a hardship on families. Anyone caring for children and/or aging parents have some difficult decisions to make. Most public education organizations and elder care facilities are working with tighter budgets, therefore requiring parents and caregivers to do more than ever. You have to wonder how much of our workforce even has the option of returning to an inflexible work schedule.

Perhaps Yahoo! will lose some of it’s top talent with this change. But perhaps it will also create a great pool of talent for the smaller, less known companies who are in a better position to offer telecommuting and home-life balance.  Seeing the challenges Yahoo! is currently facing is a clear indication that it’s time to manage talent more closely.

Now, without siting any sources, here are a few comments others have made.  I’m adding them here just to give a more well-rounded perspective on this hot topic.

  • I think it’s probably a wimpy way of making what the CEO claims are necessary staff cutbacks, since I’m sure many people will now have no other choice but to resign. However, as much as I want to disagree completely and say it was an insane decision, some of the CEO’s comments made sense to me in the context of the company’s history and the major reasons for its difficulties.
  • My question is, “What is the exact problem that led to this ban? And how can they address the exact problem without a complete ban on telecommuting?” It may be necessary in some instances but a blanket ban seems excessive.
  • It is a well known fact that there is a “un tapped” market of skilled professionals that are no longer in the job market because of the lack of telecommuting and remote work opportunities. I too had to leave a position that I loved when my daughter was born because of a new corporate initiative that required for all personnel to be on-site 5 days a week.
  • More and more studies and employees, CEO’s, and consultants are finding that when you recruit top talent and take care of your employees and don’t get in their way of being human (having lives, homes, needing to wait for the cable guy sometimes), then you win, period.
  • I’ve read several articles on this and have concluded that Yahoo had no better alternative. True, it’s not a great decision, but the alternatives (including leaving the current telework program in place) must have been worse.
  • If they had employees who were not trustworthy or not towing the line, I wish they could have addressed those individuals. Maybe they tried. It brings to mind the teacher who criticizes and disciplines the whole class because a handful of students are not doing what they are supposed to do. Maybe she felt that the issue was an epidemic sweeping through the telecommuting employees at Yahoo, and once again, I am not in her shoes.
  • I’ve been in situations before where a blanket approach, such as this, was used, and rather than weeding out the untrustworthy employees or developing them into better employees, it just brought everyone down, including the top performers, who quickly started finding work elsewhere. And any hope for new collaborating turned into employees collaborating about their complaints and their desires to work elsewhere…
  • There’s clearly some people at Yahoo! who have been able to hide their lack of productivity at home. Those are the real targets here. It won’t surprise me if the policy is reversed at some point, but they have to change the culture first. The culture has been the target of most of her moves up to this point, so I applaud her efforts.
  • …That is why Marissa is the CEO of Yahoo and not you. If everything in the world was run on basis of just books, anyone can run the companies, they would not need a person like Marissa and pay her millions. Let’s face it, Marissa brought in changes like iPhones to all staff, and we now know that change is working. The condition Yahoo is currently in, Marissa sees Yahoo has two choices – employees can come in to change the culture she likes to see OR employees can stay at home (as Yahoo will go down the drain, like many other before it).

So, what are your thoughts?


Employment and Unemployment in the 209

January 20, 2012 1 comment

Did you know that in San Joaquin County…

  • The county unemployment rate is 15.9% while Alameda County is 9.3%?


The top 3 fastest growing jobs are:

  • Personal and Home Care Aides ($9.86/hour),
  • Information Security Analysts, Web Developers, and Computer Network Architect – ($36.11/hour)
  • And other personal care and Service Workers such as beauticians, barbers, disability care workers, and food service workers – (pay rate varies)

Looking at the unemployment rates and taking into account the dramatic difference between the rate of pay for the 3 top fastest growing jobs, you must notice that unless you’re interested in spending the time and money needed to gain very technical skills, the quickest route into the workforce appears to be some sort of personal care.  Personal care jobs are often viewed as “low-skill” jobs; and as you can see from the rate of pay that these type jobs generally are low paying jobs as well.  While you many not want to make a life-long career in such low-skill/low-pay jobs, I encourage you to go ahead and enter (or re-enter) the workforce through the door that is open.

Getting in the workforce will help you:

  1. Develop even more skills (particularly soft-skills which employers say are 87.5% of almost every job).
  2. Build your confidence level and your general feelings of usefulness.
  3. Send a message to your family and friends that you are still workforce-minded, thereby minimizing the amount of time available to do random activities that really are  low priority time-busters.

I have found, particularly in the 209 area code, the conditions of the job market have many people so despondent they’ve found solace in doing “random activities“.  What I say to you is this:  make those activities count for something.  Use them to give you an edge into a new world or work. Unemployment benefits will not last forever. Just take a look at South Carolina’s new unemployment rules coming in 2012.  Under these  new rules, after a month of collecting benefits, the unemployed must now accept any offer for a job that pays at least 90 percent of what they used to earn. After 5 months, workers must accept a job that pays minimum wage, or $7.25 an hour. South Carolina’s unemployment rate has hovered around 9% for a few years (like California).

It won’t be long before other states plagued with high unemployment rates (like California) may look at similar alternatives.  I can take a hint; can you?

Workplace Literacy Opportunity – Deli Clerk Needs Help

January 7, 2012 1 comment

I went to Safeway’s deli to order a sandwich the other day. I approached the countertop as the deli clerk said, “May I help you?” She was Hispanic, appeared to be about 30 years old, and had a strong accent. Since I work primarily with adult learners who are non-native English speakers, my deli clerk’s accent was not a challenge for me at all.  I proceeded to order my custom-order sandwich only to find out that the deli clerk did not know the names of meats, cheeses, produce and the variety of breads in English. She was able to carry on a general conversation with me, using language skills she could have learned in a general English as a Second (ESL) language class where the topical lessons are around Life Skills. She, however, lacked the language skills to communicate verbally on something like wheat bread, soft roll, focaccia bread, cheddar cheese, or havarti cheese.  She did not understand statements like “light mayo” or “extra pickles please”.

I felt for her and wished I could stay there long enough to do some workplace literacy vocabulary-building lessons, specially designed to prepare her to do well as a deli clerk. I know there is a real need to provide these types of literacy classes in my community. I can’t help but wonder how long this particular lady will be able to keep her job.  I do know that Workplace Literacy classes can help her succeed.

Skills Needed by School Clerical Support Staff

August 2, 2011 Leave a comment

We surveyed clerical support workers at several K-12 school-sites to find out what skills current school clerical support workers needed most to do there jobs more efficiently (click to see results). We also surveyed local residents to find out what barriers kept them from taking the courses needed to improve their work and career outlook. The number one response was: time. If time is limited but you want to gain more skills, online classes may be a good alternative to traditional classes.
School clerical support staff; consider these online classes as an option to learn ways to work more efficiently and effectively.


  •  Grammar Refresher– Gain confidence in your ability to produce clean, grammatically correct documents and speeches.  (click here:
  • Effective Business Writing – Improve your career prospects by learning how to develop powerful written documents that draw readers in and keep them motivated to continue to the end. (click here

Administrative Support

  • Administrative Assistant Fundamentals – Prepare to take advantage of the many new job opportunities in health care, legal services, and other industries. (click here:
  • Introduction to Nonprofit Management – Develop the skills and strategies you need to become an integral part of one of America’s fastest growing service sectors. (click here:

Computer & Technology Skills

  • Intermediate Microsoft Word 2007 – Learn more advanced features of Microsoft Word 2007, which enable you to create an index, a list of figures, and a table of contents, do desktop publishing, perform a mail merge, and use timesaving macros. (NOTE: If you do not feel ready for Intermediate Microsoft Word, take Introduction for Microsoft Word 2007 first). (Click here:
  • Introduction to Microsoft Excel 2007 – Do you work with numbers? You need to know Excel. Learn the secrets of this powerful application. (click here:
  • Photographing People with Your Digital Camera – Learn to take beautiful pictures of adults, children, and babies. (click here:

Other Recommended Courses

  • Handling Medical Emergencies – Every second counts during a medical emergency. Learn how to respond if someone needs your help. (Click here:
  • Designing Effective Websites – Learn powerful graphic design techniques and build Web sites that are both attractive and wickedly effective. (click here:
  • Introduction to Adobe Acrobat 9 – Create PDF documents and more with Adobe Acrobat 9 Pro, and learn to use many of the software’s time- and cost-saving features. (click here:

If you want to become the Office Manager, consider these courses as well:

  • Fundamentals of Supervision and Management – Learn the people skills required to motivate and delegate, and learn tools for solving problems and resolving conflicts. (
  • Accounting Fundamentals – Gain a marketable new skill by learning the basics of double-entry bookkeeping, financial reporting, and more. (
  • Accounting Fundamentals II – Give yourself skills that are in high demand by exploring corporate accounting with a veteran instructor. (
  • Introduction to QuickBooks 2009 or 2010 – Learn how to quickly and efficiently gain control over the financial aspects of your business. (Click here:

Check it out and share your feedback.  Thanks!

– Michelle Walker-Wade