Yahoo's CEO is wrong: working from home is great for employees and management
It was nearly a decade ago that I stopped going into the office every day. I worked at a competing Web magazine at the time, and my bosses didn’t really care how I worked, as long as I got stuff done. At first, like many people, I began working from home because I was lazy. By skipping my hourlong commute, I gave myself more time to sleep in and goof off. And without anyone watching over me, the goofing off was sure to be epic.
But I quickly realized that, counter to my intentions, working at home made me more productive. Without office distractions—listening to other people’s phone calls, bantering with the receptionist, figuring out where and with whom to go to lunch—I could report and write much faster. Telecommuting also freed me from pointless office commitments. For instance, I could call in to meetings, mute my line, and then do more important things with my time.
When I tell people that I work at home, they usually assume one of two things—that I’m un- or underemployed and just biding my time until I get a real job, or that I possess a monkish, single-minded devotion to work that they suggest is required for successful telecommuting. Neither is true. Instead, I’ve realized that, once you learn how to do it, working at home is superior in almost every way. It allows me to be better at my job and at my life—to be a more productive employee and a not-terrible husband and dad.
Working at home isn’t for everyone. As a writer, I work according to what Y Combinator’s Paul Graham calls the “maker’s schedule.” My job requires long stretches of distraction-free time, and my output, on any particular day, is sensitive to my mood and environment. Working at home gives me the freedom to adjust these variables to maximum effect: Sometimes I find that I write better if I start a column after dinner, while other times I hit a wall during the middle of the day, take an hour off to get a snack and jump in the shower, and then come back to produce a magnificent column about pajamas.