What Can Yahoo! Teach Us About Presentee-ism?

There has been a very positive shift in working culture over the past few years that has encouraged employees to work from home more often – living the flexible working mantra, and understanding that being in a physical office (or not) does not necessarily mean that you are at work (or not!). I take advantage of this enlightened approach and work from home often: the technology allows me to access everything exactly the same as in the physical office, and I am judged not on my attendance in the office, but what I achieve in my role. Great…I thought.


I was a big fan of this approach. Recently, however, I’ve started to consider (or notice) if presenteeism (being at the office all the time) can in fact lead to better results. And the thing that made me consider this is Yahoo!

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The Seven Deadly Sins of Email: the abuses of electronic mail

Imagine the scenario: it’s the 1960s and you’re a busy office worker. You’ve just finished up for your two-week summer holiday at Great Yarmouth, and you’re looking forward to riding the snails at the Pleasure Beach. When you return to work, you find over 200 memos in your intray.

It wouldn’t happen…

Jump forward to today…you return from your ten-day holiday on some Greek island to 200+ emails (or you might have even spent Sunday night going through them).

How has this become acceptable?! How has email gone from a pretty geniune form of electronic correspondence to a catch-all pile of every type of information possible? And is it acceptable any more? I call on you all to repent for the seven deadly sins of email and live a virtuous, marvellous new world of email correspondance and make the best use of the other brilliant tools at our disposal for the other tasks that email has become.

Here are, what I have deemed, the seven deadly sins of email (and what you can do about them):

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PIES at your meeting

PIES. Yum. Who doesn’t like pie?



But on this occasion, I’m not talking about a tasty pastry and meat/fruit filling, oh no. I’m talking about a method of co-operative learning developed by Dr Spencer Kagan and that I learned whilst I was teaching. I recently thought that this model might be really useful to apply to modern, grown up meetings too. It works like this:

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Here’s a great aspiration for your team

You know you’ve got a good team when…

I’m sure there are hundreds of responses to this prompt. One that really sticks in my mind was from one team session I was working on. We were discussing our hopes and aspirations for the team and I was asking them what would you see and what would you hear (by the way, this phrase is brilliant for exploring notional ideas like respect, trust, teamwork).

The response that stuck with me is

“we will hear stupid questions”

What a fantastic aspiration! A team that gets on well enough and is open enough not to worry about what other people will think if they ask a stupid question; where the stupid question is welcome.

Ask a stupid question

Ask a stupid question

Hurrah for stupid questions. In fact, is the stupidest question the one you don’t ask?!

How do you know when you’ve got a good team?

The joker and the Devil’s advocate…introducing creativity and challenge to meetings

A while ago, I did some work with my team thinking about what makes a team great, what kind of things we would see and hear and start to prioritise which aspects we wanted to work most on. We chose two things in particular:

  1. Creativity and innovation
  2. Constructively and safely challenge in meetings

I went away and had a think about some ideas that might help facilitate these aspects during meetings. I came up with an idea I’m going to share here…

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