By now, you have likely heard about the decision by Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer to end the company's work-from-home practice in June. Her official reasons, disclosed in a much-ballyhooed internal email that leaked last week, included things like increased collaboration from chance meetings in the hallway or cafeteria and better teambuilding through proximity. One thing that wasn't in the memowas something she had done prior to issuing the ruling: she checked the logs of the Virtual Private Network (VPN) to see who was actually working.

While this was likely a very smart decision, considering that some ex-Yahoo employees insinuated that “dead wood” was hiding at home and Mayer herself said that employees weren't signing in, the fact that Mayer checked Yahoo’s VPN logs just reinforces a widely held fear: corporate is watching everything you do online.

Don’t think that fear is that widespread? Here is a link. Behind this link is a gallery containing all the gratuitous scenes from every ‘80s high school-centered movie, including the Phoebe Cates/Fast Times at Ridgemont High one. Pretty tempting, no?

Did you click? Of course not, because you know corporate is monitoring your every mouse click, and companies make no bones about monitoring online activity, citing “security” and, more commonly, “cost savings from lost productivity” as they bolster the IT workload, making it a priority to block all sites not having a relation to business activities while tracking every employee’s every move. The actual cost savings from these lockdowns are immeasurable in most cases, or wildly overestimated in others.

But while virtually every company can see the value in software solutions to monitor employees’ Internet activities, they have been a bit slower to adopt similar Telecom Expense Management solutions, even though the features are quite similar. Someone goes to a site they’re not supposed to? Web monitoring software sends an alert. Someone abusing their company phone plan? TEM software sends an alert. Need to measure total bandwidth used per employee? Web monitoring software tracks that. Need to measure total mobile bandwidth used per employee? TEM software tracks that. Plus, TEM  software will show you exactly where you are losing money through inconsistent billing and minute/message/data overages and overpayments.

Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer’s decision to bring all employees back in the office came after she looked at the VPN logs to see who was actually working from home, and the move has interpreted by a lot of business commentators as a way to gently encourage the “dead wood” employees to quit, letting Yahoo cut excess weight without a layoff.

What's going to happen when she looks at the phone logs?
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Nicholas Hamner

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  1. What the hell is a Yahoo?

  2. It's like a Yoo-Hoo, only less chocolatey.