Telecommuting solution to Silicon Valley conflicts - Google HR boss says there's no loss of productivity

Telecommuting solution to Silicon Valley conflicts - Google HR boss says there's no loss of productivity

Summary: The Internet enables people to work from home. It's great - Silicon Valley companies such as Google should try it.

TOPICS: Tech Industry
HR (1 of 1)
From left, Doug MacMillan, reporter for Bloomberg BusinessWeek (WSJ today); Melissa Daimler, Head of Organizational Effectiveness at Twitter; Rowan Trollope, head of Cisco’s Collaboration Technology Group; and Todd Carlisle, Director of Staffing at Google.


It’s good to see USA Today, New York Times, and even our own SF Chronicle getting into the story on the widening schism between tech workers and their neighbors in San Francisco. 

Yesterday, Room 400 in City Hall, was at the epicenter of this issue as Google and other tech companies battled citizens protesting their use of public bus stops. 

Google was quick to claim that its buses greatly reduced road congestion and sent a list of talking points to its SF workers to make sure transportation officials understood the green, community-wide benefit of its 100-miles long transportation network.

It claimed that the alternative was thousands of extra cars on the roads causing far more congestion than its buses.

Google neglected to mention that a far greener solution already exists: telecommuting. The Internet eliminates the need for buses altogether.

Telecommuting has made great progress in recent years as HDTV, and collaborative video tools such as Google Hangouts, make working remotely seem as if you are in the office.

Todd Carlisle, Google’s head of staffing, has repeatedly said, “There is no difference in productivity.”

At an Inforum event at the Commonwealth Club last summer, (above far left) Carlisle said Google had studied all the data and found no difference in the performance of teams working remotely, and teams inside the Googleplex.

Why has Google kept this vital information away from city officials? Why wasn’t this information made public in its talking points memo given to its SF workers? Why does Google insist on bussing?

It’s the smoking gun in this entire debate. Telecommuting would stop dead the harmful community conflict overnight with no harm to Google.

- - -

City Hall Room 400: Is There Room For Google Buses? -SVW

San Francisco slaps a tiny tax on tech commuter buses - USA Today.

Topic: Tech Industry

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  • No Excuse

    Even the so-called leading lights of the tech sector can't get their heads around telecommuting. Bit of a joke when they have access to their own highly developed telecommuting software.

    The real reason telecommuting hasn't been utilized as much as it should be by Google is senior and middle management resistance. They are a bunch of control freaks who are simply unwilling to adapt to their own new technology.

    Marissa Mayer's recent banning of telecommuting for Yahoo staff is another spectacularly bad example of management clinging on to last century's ideas.

    In both cases the companies are behaving in an environmentally irresponsible manner.
  • Bigger Picture?

    I'd like to add a different perspective. I see resistance, for the most part, coming from Sr management seeking to reduce real estate expenses (the tail wagging the dog) by shifting costs to employees. The objective should be to realize that both technology and real estate should be optimized to produce maximum employees productivity. An additional resistance point comes from work from home and nomadic work advocates. This groups seems focused on being right about home as the best location for remote work. A bigger picture might suggest localizing job opportunities across an extended metropolitan area requires a more collaborative and integrated approach. While I have commented extensively for the need to examine a distributed workplace architecture, I seem to face the greatest resistance from telework advocates. We must move beyond the either work at a central work facility or work in a random nomadic fashion, perhaps in physical isolation. At some point we must examine a more methodical and structure deployment of job opportunities. Telework's daily impact numbers suggest we are not addressing the needs of more than 85% to 95% of the eligible remote workers. Distributed Workcenters could provide a new level of understanding how proximity and social densities impact the future of large organizations.
  • Because of Regulatory and Local Hurdles before Gbit/sec Connect Homes/Work

    4xHDTV video conferencing between the field, the office, and the home-office is the last mile of a political problem that is not in Google's court.
  • Its San Francisco's Own Fault

    San Francisco is the ONLY city in the Bay Area with a payroll tax. If they didn't have it, maybe more companies would locate *IN* the City, which is where their employees obviously want to live. No one makes a 40 minute reverse commute FROM the city TO the suburbs if they can find the equivalent job in the city.

    San Francisco is also the only city where being well educated and successful is protested against by a bunch of whiny, entitled brats.
  • This article misses the point

    The buses are just a scapegoat in San Francisco. What SFers are actually angry about are the skyrocketing housing costs in the city due to tech industry employees living in the city and working in the Silicon Valley. The buses are just an easy, visible target, and a way to attack techies without actually attacking techies. Telecommuting won't fix this problem, as it will make it even easier for tech employees to live in the City. What will help is increasing the supply of attractive housing in San Francisco, the peninsula, and Silicon Valley, all areas with insanely inflated housing prices due to restrictive zoning and development rules.