Okay everyone, let’s band together and force employees and co-workers to work together under the same roof and subject to the same condition. Because that will force everyone to be productive, and communicate, and get really creative, and make the workplace profit! Right? Well, according to Marissa Mayer of Yahoo!, that’s right. But for so many of us who’ve worked in office environments, we know the truth. And that is forcing every employee to work together under the same conditions in one place doesn’t always equal productive.
For those of you who have no idea what I’m referring to, the CEO and president of Yahoo! announced that beginning this June, the company will no longer allow its employees to work remotely. Everyone will need to be seated at their desk in the Yahoo! building in order to foster more collaboration and communication.
Before you start saying, “Wait a minute, Leah, you work from a home office! What do you know about this?” Let me tell you, I have quite a bit of first-hand knowledge in this area.
I’ve had my share of working for bosses and employers who were wonderful, understood the value of flexibility, and those that certainly did not. I can think of one ex-boss in particular who thought that being productive was showing up and being in the office for eight hours a day. Never mind the fact that so many of the employees were on the Internet doing non-work related things all day. They were – as Marissa Mayer wants her Yahoo employees to be – “present in our offices.”
Were employees in the office all day? You bet!
Were they productive? Depends on how you define productive.
I also had an experience with an ex-boss who would not allow any work arrangement outside the traditional 8-hour “your butt’s in the office” schedule. Case in point: After three days of me working half days with a sick daughter at home (rather than taking the three full days as family sick days), I was chastised by my boss. I thought I was doing the company a service by electing to work three half days rather than taking the days off in entirety. In the future, I was instructed, I should take the entire day off as sick leave. So even though I came into the office for a 4-hour workday (for three days straight) for the company, the boss said that unless I could be at my desk from 8 – 5, I should not come in the office at all and I should claim an 8-hour sick day. It was about – as he said – being present and being seen in the office. (No mention about the work getting done, mind you.)
Of course this was the boss’ decision and prerogative to govern how staff time should be spent. I respected that and didn’t argue. But I must say, I left that conversation not wanting to give an ounce of additional effort or consideration to that job outside of the time I spent in the office.
Same with Marissa Mayer. It’s her decision whether to mandate the Yahoo! staff to work at the office. She’s not doing anything illegal or unlawful. My point in writing this is that the claim that employees will be more productive and positive because they are working in an office is not a worthwhile claim. In fact, most studies show the opposite. So while you can mandate working in an office, you cannot mandate a happy employee.
Going back to Marissa Mayer’s decision, perhaps we should look at what may be the underlying reason for this decision: Yahoo! needs money for its company. To quote CNN Money, this new policy means the ”long-distance employees will have to either relocate or resign.” Yahoo! won’t reveal just how many employees currently work remotely, but one can imagine it may be a good amount. When those employees do resign (and I’m sure many will just out of necessity), it will likely save the company quite a bit of cash. And Yahoo! never had to terminate anyone or pay unemployment. It simply had to issue a “change in policy” memo.
One wonders how long it will be before Google starts a hiring frenzy. Imagine how many new loyal employees it will pick up!
I met writer Randy Susan Meyers in November 2011 at the San Diego Jewish Book Festival when she was promoting her debut novel, The Murder’s Daughters. I loved the book as much as I loved Randy’s personality. (Go see her if you have the chance — she’s terrific in person!) Since I finished her first book, I’ve been eagerly waiting the release of her second novel. So I was thrilled when her next novel — The Comfort of Lies — was released just last week. And let me tell you, it does not disappoint!
Told in alternating points of view, The Comfort of Lies reveals the darkest and most private thoughts of three very different women all connected to a 5-year-old girl: Tia, the birth mother; Caroline, the adopted mother; and Juliette, the wife of the birth father. The year their lives collide, the women must confront their choices while discovering sobering truths about their relationships and themselves.
I love Randy’s writing — and Lies specifically – for a number of reasons. First, the writing itself is clear, crisp and has the ability to hook you in right away with simple and compelling storytelling. From the minute I started the book, I had a hard time putting it down. I read it within days because the characters were so raw and interesting. Randy doesn’t rely on gimmicks or crazy plot twist. She simply tells a compelling story.
Second, I love that the characters are so flawed and familiar. I found myself easily identifying with all three women in different ways. (I’ve been married nearly 12 years. I’m a mother. I’m also a driven person who sometimes prefers to sit at a computer working than do much else.) And while you might find yourself disliking one character in the beginning, you end up rooting for her in the end.
It felt really good to read such an honest book without a picture-perfect ending because life is not perfect. And even though I finished the book more than a week ago, those women have stayed with me. Also a sign of a good writer and great storytelling.
Finally, I admire an author who can write books that are so different from each other. While it’s true that both The Murder’s Daughters and The Comfort of Lies involve family drama, they are completely different stories. To me, it’s a testament to Randy’s writing skill that I cannot tell she wrote both books.
Thank you, Randy, for a great reading experience with The Comfort of Lies. Can’t wait for your third novel!
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of The Comfort of Lies from Atria Books to review for this blog. However all opinions are my own and I only endorse products and books I am comfortable recommending to others. Even if I was not given a copy of Lies, I would have purchased a copy for myself.
You may have noticed I’ve been absent for several weeks. I’m so sorry, my friends. I was SICK! So sick! I got hit with the flu that’s been sweeping the nation, which then turned into a sinus infection and utter exhaustion. Finally after two weeks, I’m feeling somewhat normal. I’m still physically very tired and cannot do much. But I’m trying to rejoin the Land of the Living.
So the subject of this post — Rainbow Windcatchers — is a craft I did with Sophie that makes me happy when I see it hanging in my family room. We made rainbow windcatchers, inspired by Meg at Whatever. This project was so fun, colorful, and creative.
Here’s what you need: paper plates, rainbow paint and paint brushes, streamers, and some string. Essentially you cut the paper plate in half and paint a rainbow on both sides. Then set the plate aside and let it dry.
Once the two rainbow slices are dry, glue the pieces of streamers to the inside and staple the rainbow halves together. You can match up the corresponding rainbow colors, or not — it’s up to you. Then punch a hole at the top to hold the string. Isn’t it pretty?!
Let me apologize for being MIA for more than a week. Between work, Sophie and my new addiction to Homeland (why didn’t I discover this show earlier?!), life’s been crazy! But I’m back … and with a recipe. A delicious and super easy recipe, if you ask me!
I decided to try my hand at cooking a whole chicken. From what I understand, they are far less expensive than buying a single package of chicken breasts. And I’ve always been somewhat scared of cooking a whole chicken or turkey in the oven. But you know me and the crockpot (my BFF). So I used a Weelicious recipe as inspiration and gave it a try.
All I did was put 2 cups of chicken broth in the crockpot. Then I added the whole chicken and sprinkled Kosher salt on the top of the chicken. And that was it! I put the lid on top and cooked it on low for about eight hours. The house smelled like Thanksgiving! And speaking of, whenever I am charged with cooking the Thanksgiving bird, I’m cooking it in the crockpot.
The meat was so tender and juicy! It literally fell off the bone. You can serve it straight from the crockpot with its natural gravy (because there was a lot of it). Or save it for shredded chicken recipes. I was hoping to have leftover to do just that. But between me, Bryan and Sophie, no leftovers were had!
Seriously folks, try this recipe! It was SO good!
And on a somber note, my crockpot broke! I’ll be getting a new one tomorrow.
Happy New Year! I wanted to share with you a few final reflections on 2012 before we go too far into 2013. I was inspired by Ann marie Houghtailing (a mentor and founder of the Millionaire Girls Movement) who shared her favorite things in a recent blog post. So as we start off the new year, here are a few of my favorite things from 2012.
Starting my Own Business — It’s safe to say this event was the highlight of 2012. In March, I left my stable, full-time job as a presidential speechwriter in higher education to be a freelance writer and marketing strategist. This has been the best decision I’ve ever made. It hasn’t been easy. In fact, I work harder and more now than I ever did before. But I’m loving every minute of it!
50/50 Challenge — I decided to embark on the 50/50 Challenge last year with the goal of watching 50 movies and reading 50 books by year’s end. I ended up reading 33 books and watching 49 movies (most of which I’d seen before). The movie part of the challenge was fun because it forced me to sit on the couch and relax while tuning in to a comforting movie.
Paper Products — I think paper and stationery is making a comeback, my friends! And I for one am all about that. I love my new calendar from Paper Source, and actually hand-wrote all my business holiday cards. And there are so many great Etsy shops and online sites that have hand-drawn stationery and cards. Next step: Will I go back to the paper planner in 2013??
My Travel Mug — I love my travel coffee mug by Creative Travel Mugs that features my business logo. It’s a great conversation starter! So many people have seen the logo and then asked about my business. And the gal who owns Creative Travel Mugs is a San Diego mom. Gotta support local mom-prenuers!
World Book Night — I was a book giver for World Book Night in April 2012, which meant I had the privilege of giving away 20 books to college students who were formerly in the foster care system. It was an amazing experience (read about it here)– free book to great kids? How much better can you get? If you’re interested, consider applying to be a book giver this year. You won’t regret it!
Photo Sharing and Editing — With the purchase of my iPhone this year (another great thing), I started using Instagram and quickly realized why everyone loves this photo-sharing service. It’s so much fun! You can follow me on Instagram at @leahsthoughts. And speaking of photos, I’m a huge fan of Picmonkey to edit all my pictures and make awesome collages. I used Picmonkey to make the 2012 Year in Photos collages on my last post.
Harry Potter – Books are really a theme here, aren’t they? … Last year was the year of Harry Potter in our house as Sophie made her way through the movies (she stopped at Half Blood Prince as Bryan and I finished off the last three movies). I admit that I had just as much fun watching all the movies again (and again … and again) with her as I did when I first viewed them. You really do learn more each time watching/reading the stories. Sophie’s favorite: The Chamber of Secrets. My favorite: The Sorcerer’s Stone (can’t go wrong with a classic). I can’t wait until she’s old enough to read the books together.
Writing Classes — I was also lucky enough to take some amazing writing classes this year. In January, I attended the SDSU Writer’s Conference. I made at least four trips to Writing Pad in Los Angeles, Ca. for several classes. If you are anywhere near LA (or two hours away, like me), I HIGHLY recommend the Writing Pad classes. You won’t get anything else like them. I also took classes from author Drusilla Campbell at The Inkspot (of San Diego Writer’s Ink). And I finished the year with an intense writing class from writer Amy Wallen, also here in San Diego.
Words Alive – This year I started volunteering with a local non-profit called Words Alive last year. Once a month, I visit an early childcare center and read to three classes of kids who are 4 – 5-years-old. These kids are far from privileged and are not lucky enough to have a library of books at home. Reading to these kids every months – and seeing their faces light up when I appear – is the best high you could experience. In October I got to give each of the kids their own book to take home. It was a magical day!
Of course, 2012 was filled with so much more and many wonderful experiences. These are just a few “of my favorite things.” Can’t wait to see what 2013 brings! What was the highlight of 2012 for you?
Let’s start the new year with a giveaway, shall we? Head over to my San Diego Features/Giveaways page to win a family 4-pack of tickets to Disney on Ice: Dare to Dream, coming to San Diego January 23 – 27, 2013!