Yahoo!’s Big Gamble: The Workplace Flexibility Conundrum

With more and more companies offering workplace flexibility, it came as a shock that Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer issued a memo late last month explaining that the company would require all of its employees to come into the office instead of working from home. This decision has received plenty of heat, with some calling the policy change “short-sighted”, “going backwards” and an “epic fail”. After all, 24% of Americans reported working from home at least a few hours per week and 63% of employers reported they allowed employees to work remotely.

Even though allowing workers to telecommute may save the company money in a sluggish economy, some firms are noticing definite drawbacks to having an emptier office. Studies have indicated that employees who work from home are more productive but less innovative – apparently, employees interacting with one another can lead to more new ideas and faster decision making. For a struggling company like Yahoo, having employees in the same place could mean the difference between growth and stagnation.

Job applicants shouldn’t always assume their future workplace will embrace workplace flexibility. It may be an attractive option to work from your couch all day, but it may not be the best decision for your career. Often, employees who primarily work from home miss out on crucial decisions and also may be passed over for promotions or special opportunities partly because they are much less visible in the office environment.

Recent college graduates and young professionals may be searching for jobs with greater opportunities to work from home, but Mayer may have started a trend with more companies focusing on keeping people in the workplace. Workplace flexibility must be kept in balance with other job aspects – how important is it to you to work at home compared to the possibility of job security or career growth? Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is important, but no job will be perfect and in this economy, sacrificing working from home just might be necessary.

 

– Emma Ambler, Marketing & Communications Intern

Interviews: Prep It Now, Nail It Later (A Lesson From Yo-Yo Ma)

Many of life’s stressful moments require days, weeks or even months of practice. Whether you’re a professional athlete, a world-class musician or applying for a job, preparation is often the key to success. Although many think the final moments leading up to the big interview or football game require squeezing in the last few minutes of intense practice, this article from The Talent Code site offers a new way of thinking about the big moment.

The author uses cellist Yo-Yo Ma and former 49ers quarterback Joe Montana to illustrate the benefits of relaxing before a big concert or game. Yo-Yo Ma uses the time before his performances to mellow out, while Montana was once so relaxed during a Super Bowl that he noticed John Candy in the stands – even though the 49ers were down by three points with three minutes left!

The point of practicing for big events in life is to concentrate, make mistakes, and fix those mistakes. Then you practice over and over again until you get it right. Practice pays off in the performance, and by being as relaxed as possible, you’ll be able to stay calm and let all of that preparation shine through. As the acting coach Constantin Stanislavakin said, “The rehearsals are the work, the performance is the relaxation.”

While this approach may seem counterintuitive in today’s society, it makes sense. By relaxing before high-pressure situations, we can get in the right mindset to do our best. This of course applies to interviews and stressful hiring processes for jobs as well as concerts or sporting events. Being an excellent interviewee is a skill, and just like Montana couldn’t have been a star QB without spending hours honing his abilities, being a proficient interviewee doesn’t happen overnight.

The best way to prepare for a job opportunity is practice, practice, practice – and what better way to get ready than by using ReFresh Your Steps’ Interviewing Skills services? With our help, you’ll be prepared to shine in an interview without the panicked moments beforehand.

 

– Emma Ambler, Marketing & Communications Intern

Are Stressful Jobs Really Worth It?

No career is without its stressful moments, but a study from careercast.com –and covered by CNN–has announced the 10 Most and Least Stressful jobs of 2013, with enlisted military personnel earning the most stressful spot and university professors claiming the least stressful. This CNN article points out that even though some jobs may be higher in stress levels, they are often more rewarding. While firefighters (#3 on the list) have to deal with long hours and very dangerous situations, they are also keeping their community safe and aiding people daily. Often, people who are in high stress careers do so because they receive something more than just a paycheck.

As a college senior looking to enter the work force in the next few months, I have to start considering what kind of work I would like to do and how that affects my lifestyle. High-pressure jobs may mean long hours, busy days, and multiple Starbucks runs, but they can also pay off in ways I might not expect.

Public relations executives (#5) or newspaper reporters (#8) may face tighter deadlines and tougher decisions than a medical records technician (#3 on the least stressful list), but the more stressed out employees can have quite meaningful reasons for their profession selection. Apart from a high level of personal fulfillment, a stressful job can also mean that boredom at work is rare, activity is high, and daily responsibilities are never the same. People who enjoy a challenge and shirk monotonous duties may seek out a more stressful career because of the less obvious benefits they receive.

Jobs are rarely completely stress free (and life isn’t either), but those moments of stress can be worth it for a career you love. It’s important for students to remember that when it’s the right fit, even a high pressure job can mean be much more rewarding than a relaxed one. With that in mind, find the career path that seems right for you – and find activities outside of work that can help you unwind!

–Emma Ambler, Marketing & Communications Intern