Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer Gathers The Troops

Location, location, location. It’s more than a Realtors’ call to arms today. Some of the nation’s most influential business leaders are promoting the value of face time and physical proximity.

Opportunities flow through congregations of people. Those with good ideas and information tend to hang out with one another,” Reid Hoffman of LinkedIn wrote recently. He added, “Collaboration happens best when information and ideas can bounce quickly to and from all the interested parties, ideally in the same physical place.”

Maybe Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer got Hoffman’s memo (or the two were on already the same page). Because here’s an except from a newly delivered internal Yahoo! HR document, acquired by Kara Swisher at AllThingsD:

To become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side. That is why it is critical that we are all present in our offices. Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings. Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home. We need to be one Yahoo!, and that starts with physically being together.

Yes, Mayer is calling for all Yahoos to gather daily in the same space and work as a team to advance the ball. Of course, some may be asking themselves what century Mayer is living in. WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg, for one, countered, “Automattic is 100% committed to being distributed. 130 of our 150 people are outside of San Francisco.”

What do you think? Have you had positive or poor experiences working from a distance?

I worked remotely for BFG Communications for a short time. Also, AdPulp and Bonehook both rely on distributed teams to get the job done. So, you might say I am a big proponent of this model. You’d be correct, but I am also keenly aware of the value of the live team dynamic. Skype isn’t the same as being in a room together, and email or IM isn’t the same as working through a problem verbally. We’re human beings, we need to see each other laugh, smile and frown. We need to rely on one another, like wolves.

For me, the question isn’t whether to work in the same office or city or not. The question is how frequently does the team gather? The more often the better, because “out of sight, out of mind,” is real. In my opinion, a well functioning distributed team needs to meet regularly in person to help strengthen the human bonds that drive important projects and business forward.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.