April 16, 2013
There has been a lot said in the media the last few months about working from home, especially with Yahoo’s new policy banning the practice. It’s a perk that we have at Rhiza that we apply on a case-by-case basis.
A lot of the policies we enact are there because human capital is any tech company’s biggest asset. Sure, it’s possible to document as much as possible, but at least some of the ‘what’, ‘why’ and ‘how’ of a software company is tied up in actual human brains, and it’s valuable to be able to access that quickly when something goes wrong. So, we spend a lot of time trying to hire the right people and then keep them for as long as possible.
I went back to work two weeks after having my daughter, mostly because I could. I was given the standard Rhiza maternity leave of six weeks, which I could use in whatever increment I needed instead of taking it all in one lump sum. I managed to stretch it out until she was three months old. From the age of three to six months I worked full time with the kid at my side.
This is a perk that is available to everyone in the company and something that has sustained me as a fiercely loyal employee. I know it won’t work for everyone, but in an industry where skills go stale faster than a loaf of bread, it kept me plugged in to my workplace without having to sacrifice bonding with my daughter. Plus, it was cheap to implement and it works with our corporate culture.I can understand the need for face time in the office, and it’s debatable whether working from home adds or subtracts from productivity.
However, working from home can be a real life-line that minimizes worker turnover and stress. And it’s something that doesn’t just apply to parental responsibilities. We have one employee whose commute just lengthened to an unsustainable level. He works from home a few days a week and we all get to share in that two hours that he is not sitting in his car.
So, I really can’t talk about how this is going to work at Yahoo and whether this is going to turn anything around, but I can say that workplace flexibility and our other work-life balance policies are pretty vital to our strategy for competing for talented workers. I fight Google and other big name tech companies *every day* for engineers. It’s crucial to have as many tools as I can for selling our workplace.