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Yahoo Take Notice: 5 Workers Who Can Ruin Your Day

Yahoo's Marissa Mayer is wrong. Telecommuting prevents co-workers from wasting time and energy.
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Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer recently insisted that Yahoo employees come into the office rather than work from home in order to increase "communication and collaboration."

Apparently, Mayer believes that innovation will emerge from more meetings, including those that take place in hallways and lunchrooms.

As if.

One of the HUGE advantages of telecommuting is that it decreases the pointless socialization and personal interaction that can consume hours of a workday.

More importantly, telecommuting isolates people from coworkers whose social behaviors make everyone around them less productive.

Here are five very common types of workers who are harmless when working remotely, but toxic when you work with them in person:

1. Vampires

Workplace vampires don't suck blood; they suck all the energy out of the room. The moment they come through the door, they have a reason why something won't work, a story that illustrates the futility of trying, and a list of unsolvable problem that need your immediate attention.

Telecommuting doesn't stop vampires from being pessimistic, but the fact that they must communicate their pessimism by a diffuse medium like email limits their ability to impinge their mood upon other people.

2. Volcanoes

Volcanoes show an impassive face to the world while they silently collect a long list of the times they've been "disrespected" by the people around them. Rather than clearing the air, they let the pressure build, and then build some more, and then they explode into a tantrum that leaves everyone thinking: "Where did THAT come from?"

Telecommuting doesn't prevent volcanoes from exploding, but it does prevent them from exploding more than once. While temper tantrums can be indulged (and thus repeated) few volcanoes ever send out more than one nuclear SLAM-O-GRAM.

3. Frenemies

A frenemy claims to be your biggest cheerleader and the only person who's really "on your side." Meanwhile, the frenemy is subtly sabotaging everything that you do. Under the guise of advice, they sap your confidence. Or they promise to help you out, but then fail to deliver...always for a good reason, of course.

Frenemies don't exist in telecommuting environments because frenemies use physical presence and facial expressions to communicate their "friendliness" and hide their sabotage. Their true intentions are trivially easy to spot when you're online.

4. Parasites

Parasites wait to see what ideas become popular inside a firm and then, when it's clear an idea has support and "traction," position themselves as the idea's sponsor and (by implication) the brains behind it. This is also known as "finding a parade and getting out it front of it."

Parasites don't thrive with telecommuting because working remotely leaves an automatic "audit trail" of who did what. Because there are fewer meetings, parasites have fewer opportunities to grandstand and claim credit.

5. Basket Cases

Basket cases bring the drama of their private lives into the office and use the resulting chaos as an excuse for failing. At first, you feel sympathetic about their life challenges and respect them for soldiering on. After a while, though, you realize that the drama is who they are rather than a temporary handicap.

Telecommuting allows basket cases to deal with their drama at home, rather than transferring it to everyone else. Without enablers focusing on the distraction, only the work of the basket case suffers.

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Last updated: Feb 28, 2013

GEOFFREY JAMES

Geoffrey James, a contributing editor for Inc.com, is an author, speaker, and award-winning blogger. Originally a system architect, brand manager, and industry analyst inside two Fortune 100 companies, he's interviewed more than a thousand successful executives, managers, entrepreneurs, and gurus to discover how business really works. His most recent book is Business Without the Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts You Need to Know. If you enjoyed this post, sign up for the free weekly Sales Source newsletter.




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