Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide

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Richard Hughes, the Broadvision director of product strategy, chimed in on the Yahoo ‘no remote work’ brouhaha with an interesting observation, based on his company’s experience using their own work media tool, Clearvale. Hughes saw a quote taken from a former Yahoo engineer, cited by Nicholas Carlson:

 A lot of people hid. There were all these employees [working remotely] and nobody knew they were still at Yahoo.

Hughes found that hard to imagine in a company using social tools:

Richard Hughes, On an enterprise social network you can run, but you can’t hide

What struck me was how difficult it would be for an employee of a company with an established enterprise social network to hide in this way. Their absence would be noted both anecdotally (“Richard doesn’t seem to be in my activity stream much this week”) and statistically in usage reports.

I work from home all the time, but remain one of the most active contributors to BroadVision’s own internal Clearvale enterprise social network. I’m not the most active any more, but almost everyone who has overtaken me also works from home all the time. Indeed, we consistently see much higher activity from home-workers than office-workers. On an enterprise social network you can run (i.e. work remotely), but you certainly can’t hide – anyone can see what I’ve been doing recently, simply by checking my activity stream.


Whether Yahoo’s move is the right move for their business, I wouldn’t presume to say. But I can’t help wondering whether implementation of a good enterprise social network would be a far less disruptive way for Yahoo to reconnect with its remote employees.

I strongly agree. Mayer may be motivated by the desire to get teams reengaged, after a long period of drift. But that lack of engagement is a management failure across the board, not a failure of remote workers being remote. And rolling out some enterprise-grade work media tools would be a lot less disruptive and employee-friendly than ‘all hands on deck’.