When CEO Marissa Mayer dropped the banhammer on working from home, saying it was time for Yahoo!’s remote employees to return to the Mothership, the anti-telecommuting brigade saw the news as a decisive victory. Their general consensus was that Mayer figured out what they had known all along – that people who work remotely log fewer hours, are less productive, and spend their days barbecuing, watching 80s movies, and playing Call of Duty in dank, skeevy-looking PJs.
Well, bad luck for Marissa and all the work from home naysayers: Most of the assumptions about remote workers are false. Here’s just a quickie roundup of three busted myths about the telecommuting life:
1. Telecommuters are not creative when they’re away from the office
When most people work outside the office, the creativity truly flows. A recent Inc. Magazine study revealed that remote workers were 20 percent more productive when they could “think out of the box” when at home or elsewhere. Need a project that requires great writing, design, video or organization? Give it to someone who can walk the dog, hit the treadmill, or blast Aerosmith at ungodly decibels to push their way through a problem.
2. Remote workers work less than people at the office
This trope has lived a long, satisfying life, but it’s time to put it to rest. In a staggering development, the same Inc. survey discovered that only 28 percent of non-commuters work more than 40 hours a week. That’s not the scandal, though, it’s that almost 55 percent of remote workers work more than 40 hours a week. It makes sense: Many employers expect more from their work from home minions, and these minions will do more to maintain their telecommuting status.
3. Telecommuters dress like they’re homeless
When CBS’s Jonathan Klein said the average blogger was “a guy sitting in his living room in pajamas,” he probably never imagined that quote would haunt him from that day forward. Is it true that most telecommuters wear clothes that are more casual than those worn by people who work in offices? Yes, but according to CityTownInfo.com, almost 50 percent of remote workers wear t-shirts and jeans on a daily basis. Only 25 percent of stay-at-homers work in pajamas, and unfortunately the survey didn’t specify whether those pajamas are dank, skeevy, or dank AND skeevy. You’ll have to use your imagination on that one.
At the moment, no one can say for certain whether the change in Yahoo!’s culture will benefit or hurt the company’s performance. Regardless of that outcome, we do know that telecommuters can be creative and productive, even if they’re a little less than fashion-forward.