Why Working at Home Can Be a Bad Idea
Slate's Katie Roiphe thinks a clear separation helps creativity
By John Johnson, Newser Staff
Posted Feb 27, 2013 6:16 PM CST

(Newser) – Marissa Mayer's decree requiring that Yahoo employees stop working from home and instead schlep to the office has set off a wave of pro and con arguments. Count Katie Roiphe of Slate, who has experience in both worlds, in Mayer's camp. When you work from home, you're distracted in countless subtle ways, she writes. Maybe it's the kids in the next room, or the argument you had last night, or the recollection that the cable bill is due. Heading into an office, or even a coffee shop with the laptop, provides clearer separation.

"Is it possible that our ideas, our creativity, our wilder bursts of thought are often, or at least sometimes better achieved outside the home, in a more neutral space?" she asks. Rudimentary measurements of productivity on the part of home workers can miss this crucial element. What's more, this "work-life balance" works in reverse. It will help your home life to keep work at work, even if you have only a "tiny sliver of a chance of keeping the office and the thousands of meaningless work details and memos and preoccupations out of your home." Click for the full column. Or click for fellow Slate writer Farhad Manjoo's contention that Yahoo's Mayer is way off base.

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Feb 28, 2013 8:06 PM CST
Of course; how clever of them to decide that it's more distrcting for me to hear my children who are nonexistent or at school than the 5 people in the surrounding cubicles who are trying to avoid boredom induced insanity by chatting amongst themselves without end the entire working day, and the folks who are attracted to their conversation and actually park their rear ends on my desk when they're tired of chatting while standing. And how clever of them to decide that I'd be too stressed by the recollection of the argument last night only if I stay home, because when I go to the office that stress gets fogotten, because of the stress of communting an hour each way in traffic which involves at least one accident per trip. And most of all, how clever of them to allow their company to risk millions of dollars on decisions based on the work of somebody like me, who can't be trusted to do their job without somebody clocking their entrance and exits, and without the intelligence to realize where I do my work best.
Feb 28, 2013 11:42 AM CST
Working is bad for you no matter how you do it.
Feb 28, 2013 12:19 AM CST
What do you think would happen if we told Stephen King he had to write his next book in a cubicle between 9am and 5pm. Then he had to attend a daily standup meeting each morning and talk about how much he wrote the day before and what he was going to do today. Then let's say to get the book out quicker we decided to put 12 writers on it, one for each chapter. And they could have team collaboration meetings twice a day. Then say we kept pressuring the 12 authors telling them how critical it was to stay on schedule. Do you think there's any chance this book would be any good? Do you think coming up with innovative new software products is any less of a creative process than writing a good book?