So our rationale is this is Yahoo!'s all hands on deck moment. And I fully except a lot of people said, well, wait people are more productive when they work on their own. And I fully accept that. But, what they aren't is more collaborative. And when you need to innovate you need collaboration. And so when I look at things like Yahoo!'s weather app, which I hope a lot of people have on their phones, I think that what you see there is our weather team met up with the Flickr team and Flickr said, we've got all these geo-tagged photos, and the weather team said we need to make weather beautiful. And they brought it together. And now you see these postcards of beautiful photography from all over the world when you look at the weather, of the actual weather pattern that you're seeing in that city that day. It's really quite remarkable. That wouldn't happen ‑‑ it happened because two people ran into each other in the break room and got to talking. That doesn't happen when you're by yourself in the kitchen. But, I think that the collaboration piece is really what ultimately motivated it for us.
Another snippet from Marissa Mayer's MPW interview.
This is a question I've been thinking about a fair bit lately. This is probably because of conversations with friends whose companies have remote workers, both in the UK and off-shore. I've been curious how it working for them.
I like Marissa Mayer's distinction between productivity and collaboration. A related point—and one I've learned a lot about recently—is the difference between personal productivity and team productivity. In addition to allowing for the serendipitous break room meeting, working in the same place helps ensure that discussions within a team happen frequently. I think of this as a balance between discussion and assumption. When people are physically separated from one another, the tendency is often to make assumptions and proceed on that basis. The end result is that people are getting things done, but aren't necessarily getting the right things done. By “right,” I don't mean a top-down decision made by management, but the collective decision of the direction the team itself has chosen to take.
I know that many people who work remotely have communication systems in place to prevent this. I'd be curious to know how they encourage discussion and prevent people making assumptions without consulting the rest of the team.
But in saying this, I can also see that there can be too much if a good thing. A culture that focuses exclusively on discussion and doesn't give individuals the scope to make sensible assumptions could easily lead to analysis paralysis.