Greetings. Not long ago Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer caused a stir when she announced that starting in June the company’s employees would no longer be allowed to work from home. Her “decision” flew in the face of a growing corporate trend, especially among leading tech companies, toward telecommuting and the idea that giving people the freedom and flexibility to work from home, or from their local Starbuck’s, was not only good for morale but good for business.
Speaking at the “Great Place to Work” conference, Mayer acknowledged that “people are more productive when they’re alone,” but suggested that “they’re more collaborative and innovative when they’re together.” Adding that “some of the best ideas come from pulling two different ideas together.” In an importance sense, she is absolutely spot on. But she, and most leaders on both sides of this issue, are also way off the mark when it comes to understanding where innovation comes from. And here’s the data point that should matter most:
99 PERCENT OF ALL NEW IDEAS ARE BASED ON THE IDEAS AND INSIGHTS OF OTHERS
Ideas that are typically found somewhere beyond the confines of our workplaces or our dining room tables. Ideas that are typically discovered when we decided to explore the world around us rather than hang out in an office meeting or at our laptop or tablet on the kitchen counter. Ideas that beckon us, and our colleagues, to get out of our comfort zones in order to take a fresh look at the genius that is around us–in the work of another company, the galleries of a local museum, the bustle of a thriving city street, or the solitude of our favorite hiking trail. Ideas that challenge us to scratch beneath the surface of another industry, culture, walk of life, or corner of nature to discover new ideas, insights, and possibilities.
And then, after proper reflection, to come back together to collaborate, innovate, grow, and make a compelling difference.
Working from home might not be the best answer for a company like Yahoo!
But neither is working from the office…at a time when their real challenge and ours is to be way more open to new, different, and more remarkable ways of doing things.
We win in business and in life when we challenge all of our colleagues to get out of the office. And to return with new perspectives and even better opportunities to change our worlds.