Ban Work from Home, Work from Work Instead

2013-03-07_0818-650x380This week the big news is how Marissa Mayer banned the Work from Home policy at Yahoo. This is a big deal in technology companies, and it’s divided the valley between those who live and die by their work from home flexibility and those (like me) who have seen what a crock of sh*t it is and are firmly against it.

Work from Home is No Way To Be Innovative

There is no Work from Home in NYC (where I’m from), at least there wasn’t when I left five years ago. Working from home was called “being unemployed and desperately taking in freelance jobs to keep afloat until you found the next real job.”

I don’t have warm-fuzzy memories of those times. What I do have warm memories of is getting up in the morning with great expectations for the day. Getting dressed nicely, jumping on the subway, walking through the streets of Manhattan to my office. Saying hello to the team, having my first cup of coffee while we meet for the morning roundup. The vibrancy and thrill that is in the air where a team of real, live bodies, all in the same physical space, are all focused at once on the same project.

That Energy is What a Startup is All About

Even out here in California, where Work from Home is prevalent, the really great companies don’t actually allow it.

At Google (Marissa’s home) we could work from home, but our managers were pretty adept at checking in with us all day to be sure we were really working. And, Google is set up so that no one really wanted to work from home anyway. Free food on every floor, free restaurants, games, massages, activities, the freedom to come and go at will. There was no need to “escape” the deary confines of the office. It was way more fun to work from work.

You Can’t Afford an Employee if You Can’t Afford Office Space

But many startups, out of a misplaced budgeting restriction, encourage their teammates to work from home. This I am strongly against.

RULE OF THUMB: If you can’t afford even shared office space, then you can’t afford an employee, or a freelancer that works by the hour.

I’ve had bad experiences with employees simply not getting work done from home. Or worse, exploiting the freedom and lack of direct supervision. Using the time I’m paying for, to work on their own projects. That’s penny-wise and pound-foolish my friends.

Work from Home Stifles Innovation

Also, even with the most honest freelancer and trustworthy employee, working alone just isn’t conducive to innovation.

Here’s an example of my work from home day: mornings are spent on the couch in pajamas, writing emails, answering calls (yes, still in pajamas), drinking my third cup of coffee by 7am, hopping on a Skype conference to be sure that the team in NYC is at work and working productively (it’s already 10am there), trying to formulate such a perfectly well-written email that our contractor in Russia will understand the very complicated feature we’re trying to add to our application, drinking more coffee, taking the dog for a walk, finally getting dressed and taking a shower and wondering why my engineer in San Francisco hasn’t been returning my emails all morning…

That is not a productive startup environment.

Innovation Comes from In-Person Collaboration

Plenty of studies have shown that working in the same physical proximity with others increases creativity. It’s not just that your employees (and you) are accountable for their time, it’s that they feed off each others’ ideas and energy. It’s the 1 + 1 = 3 theory of human interaction. When we’re together, brainstorming, working hard, sharing ideas, trying things out, we are exponentially more innovative.

Plus, it’s more fun! That’s why Steve Jobs designed large common rooms and placed the bathrooms away from the offices so people had to come out of their little cubicles and mingle and share.

But…I Have to Work from Home, I Don’t Live Anywhere Near my Teammates

Okay, okay, it’s the new economy and we have to work with people all over the world, and they can’t mingle and share with us in person. True. I can’t afford to give up my Russian engineers just because I can’t meet them f2f. And sometimes someone has to stay home with a sick kid, and whatareyougonnado? But, on the whole, working from work is a much better way to go.

So when you’ve got your first employee or contractor, get yourself an office. Budget for it, or you’ll rue the day. You need to be sitting in the same room with your freelancer to “inspire” them to work a full day. But also, share the energy. Share the vision of your company. Share a lunch and bond over cheesecake. That’s how you build a team, build a company.

And no more taking meetings in your pajamas–get dressed already!

Find Great Shared Office Space Here

Here are some great places to find coworking environments. You can work with others and share the energy, even if you’re a one-person startup.

All Over the World

Start by checking out Desk Wanted a website that matches desks to workers around the world. (List your available desk here, too!)

In San Francisco

NextSpace Union Square (SF)

The Happiness Institute (SF)

Open Loft Office in SoMa (SF)

We Work (SF, LA, NYC)

More for SF here.

Across the US

Citizen Space

Shared Workspace | NextSpace Coworking

Urban Interns

Add to my list. What other places do you know of that will rent a desk or two to a bootstrapping startup?





  1. 893651 324893wonderful work Exceptional weblog here! Also your internet site a lot up quick! What internet host are you the usage of? Can I get your associate link on your host? I want my website loaded up as fast as yours lol 997299

  2. 269902 264148When I came over to this post I can only appear at part of it, is this my net browser or the internet site? Ought to I reboot? 485945

  3. 297673 582615Good read, I just passed this onto a colleague who was doing some research on that. And he in fact bought me lunch as I located it for him smile So let me rephrase that: Thank you for lunch! 218924

  4. 157380 934398Cheers for this excellent. I was wondering whether you were planning of publishing comparable posts to this. .Keep up the excellent articles! 468301

  5. 110310 356436When I came more than to this post I can only appear at part of it, is this my net browser or the internet web site? Really should I reboot? 110392

  6. 352079 366894Amazing blog! Is your theme custom made or did you download it from somewhere? A theme like yours with a few simple adjustements would really make my blog shine. Please let me know where you got your theme. Appreciate it 885203

  7. 908865 504289oh effectively, Alicia silverstone is matured nowadays but when she was nonetheless younger, she could be the sex symbol of hollywood` 445251

  8. 935972 538553Soon after examine a couple of of the weblog posts inside your site now, and I truly like your manner of blogging. I bookmarked it to my bookmark web site list and may possibly be checking back soon. Pls take a appear at my website as effectively and let me know what you feel. 709973

  9. 617375 512714Fairly uncommon. Is likely to appreciate it for folks who contain community forums or anything, internet web site theme . a tones way for the client to communicate. Exceptional job.. 143723

  10. 263262 322190Nicely picked details, numerous thanks towards the author. Its incomprehensive in my experience at present, nonetheless in common, the convenience and importance is mind-boggling. Regards and all the best .. 29486

  11. 184657 642949I dont believe Ive seen all the angles of this subject the way youve pointed them out. Youre a true star, a rock star man. Youve got so significantly to say and know so significantly about the topic that I believe you should just teach a class about it 992697

  12. 622841 654823I believe this really is among the most significant info for me. And im glad reading your post. But want to remark on some general items, The internet site style is ideal, the articles is truly excellent : D. Very good job, cheers 452202

  13. Appreciating the commitment you put into your blog and in depth information you provide. It’s great to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same outdated rehashed information. Excellent read! I’ve saved your site and I’m including your RSS feeds to my Google account.

  14. 139820 529061I cant say that I completely agree, but then again Ive never truly thought of it quite like that before. Thanks for giving me something to consider when Im supposed to have an empty mind while trying to fall asleep tonight lol.. 337155

  15. Heya i’m for the first time here. I found this board and I in finding It truly useful & it helped me out a lot. I am hoping to offer something back and help others like you aided me.

  16. One more thing. It’s my opinion that there are a lot of travel insurance websites of respectable companies than enable you to enter your journey details and obtain you the quotations. You can also purchase the actual international travel cover policy on-line by using your own credit card. All you should do would be to enter your own travel details and you can be aware of the plans side-by-side. Merely find the program that suits your finances and needs and after that use your bank credit card to buy them. Travel insurance on the web is a good way to check for a respectable company to get international travel insurance. Thanks for discussing your ideas.

  17. Unquestionably consider that that you stated. Your favorite justification appeared to be on the net the easiest factor to bear in mind of. I say to you, I certainly get irked whilst other folks think about issues that they plainly don’t understand about. You controlled to hit the nail upon the top and also outlined out the whole thing without having side-effects , other folks can take a signal. Will probably be back to get more. Thanks


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.