Yahoo’s Work From Home Fail

Working moms everywhere are no doubt aware of the dustup this week over Yahoo’s new policy banning working from home. In an age where telecommuting is the rule rather than the exception in many companies, this move shocked and horrified business leaders. At my company, gyro’s Rick Segal even wrote an article in Forbes on why this is a bad move. Just look at the SERP for “yahoo work from home” and you’ll see why this is a disaster.

As a working mom myself, this issue hits home. I’ve worked from home for over 5 years now, for 2 different companies. I currently work for a company that’s based in a different state from where I live. It’s no big deal. My coworkers know I’m just a phone call, email, IM, Skype, or FaceTime away from them, and report that it’s not very different from me being in the office. From a work standpoint, I’m as productive as anyone else – if not more so. At home, I have a quiet environment in which to work, free from the distractions that come with an office.

I start my day when my kids leave for school at 7:30, and am usually done shortly after they get home at around 4pm. It’s a conscious move on my part to spend my most productive hours when no one is home to distract me from the task at hand. At the same time, I get many of the same benefits as stay-at-home moms – I’m here to see my kids off in the morning, and am here to greet them when they get home.

That’s not to say I never have calls or meetings when they’re here – I do. And that’s not to say I’m never in the office – I was there most of this week! But the flexibility is what counts.

I have to believe that Yahoo is going to lose good employees over this decision. After all, the digital space is uniquely suited to working from anywhere, any time. That’s the way work is these days – are we ever really not working? Why hamstring people by telling them they have to haul their butts into an office every day?

I’m thankful to work for an employer that embraces working from home.

As a working mom, Marissa Mayer should be ashamed of herself.

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2012 – New Beginnings

Today marks the end of the first week in my new job at gyro, a top B2B agency with offices worldwide. I’m working exclusively on PPC, as part of the Search team based in Cincinnati, OH – working most of the time from home here in East Lansing, MI.

I had a great run at Fluency Media for the past 4 years, and am thankful for the opportunity to learn so much about integrated digital marketing from the team there.

As 2012 gets underway, I’m super excited about this new gig and the opportunities ahead. It’s going to be a great year, both professionally and personally.

Professionally, I’m looking forward to the 2012 SEM conference circuit, which for me begins with Hero Conf in Indianapolis in April. In its first year, this conference (put on by the great peeps at PPC Hero)is strictly focused on PPC and features a Who’s Who of industry expert speakers. It should be a great conference.

Following that, there will probably be SMX Advanced, SES Chicago, and possibly one or two other conferences, all with awesome learning & networking.

Personally, I’m beyond excited about the front row seats I snagged yesterday for the Van Halen concert at the Palace of Auburn Hills next month. This is a bucket list thing for me – I’ve been a VH fan since the beginning, but the best seats I’ve had so far have been 4th row. Needless to say, I’m wearing a VH shirt today in celebration. 🙂

I’m also training to walk my first half marathon in April, just 3 days before my 46th birthday. That’s another bucket list item and I’m excited about that as well.

What’s on tap for you in 2012?

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What I’m Thankful For – SEM Edition

I know it’s kind of hokey, writing a “thankful” post for Thanksgiving, but I’m doing it anyway. Over the past couple of months, there have been times that I’ve let the stress of everyday living overshadow all the blessings in my life, so it’s time to right things around.

A Great Job

I don’t say it often enough: I’m thankful for a great job at Fluency Media that allows me to learn and grow every single day. We’re not a huge company, so I get to be involved in almost everything we do – and that helps me learn. My co-workers are a diverse group of super-smart digital marketers, and that makes us all better at what we do.

Great Clients
I don’t talk about our clients a lot – I’m not usually a proponent of violating NDAs. That said, I’m thankful for our great Fluency Media clients, who challenge us with their toughest marketing problems. They are truly partners, and they make our jobs fun!

A Great Career

I’ve written about how I got started in SEM – it was almost a fluke, really. Yet I’m continually grateful to be a part of this ever-changing industry. It’s a true blessing to have a career that’s really fun – it makes work seem, well, more like fun than work.

Great Friends In The Industry

Back when I was getting started in SEM, I was an avid reader on many search engine forums, including the Search Engine Watch forums. I read every newsletter I could get my hands on, from experts like Jill Whalen and Andrew Goodman. I was shocked when these esteemed experts replied personally to the questions I asked on the forums! I was dumbfounded when they actually took the time to talk to me at search marketing conferences! It felt like hanging out with rock stars. Nowadays, I count many of those same experts among my closest friends in the industry. There are many more that I’ve met on Twitter and have yet to meet in real life – yet they fall into the same “great friends” category. I’m thankful to have such a great network of friends who really love to help each other out.

An Unbelievably Awesome Family

I don’t write about my family much either – I believe some things should be private. But I’m forever thankful most of all for them: my husband of 18 years, and my super-awesome 13 year old twins. Teenagers are challenging, yet my kids astound me every day with their insight and thoughtfulness. I am truly blessed this Thanksgiving.

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3 Indispensible Tools In My Home Office

As many of you know, I’m the Online Marketing Manager for Fluency Media, an Ann Arbor, Michigan based internet marketing agency. I live in Lansing, which is about 80 miles from Ann Arbor – and no, I don’t make that commute every day. Most of the time, I work from my home office.

I’m extremely thankful for the opportunity to work from home. Not only do I save time and the environment by not driving 160 miles every day, but I get to see my kids off to school every morning and greet them when they come home in the afternoon. I also have the luxury of large uninterrupted blocks of time to manage PPC accounts.

I wouldn’t be so successful if it weren’t for the great tools in my home office. While these tools may seem obvious to many of you, I’ve heard from a surprising number of individuals that don’t have all of these tools – so again, I know I’m blessed.

#1 – My cell phone. Like I said, while a company-provided cell phone may seem like a given, it’s really not. I know more than one home worker who has to use their own landline for work, or their personal cell. While I’m sure they’re reimbursed for these expenses by their employer, it’s still a pain. My phone is nearly 3 years old, and it’s just a cell, not a Blackberry or smartphone. Still, it’s small and durable – I’ve fumbled it in parking lots and on tile floors more than once, and it comes out without a scratch every time.

#2 – My laptop. Again, seems like a given, but not everyone has a company laptop. My HP is my main PC, so I can take it anywhere. On the days I go to the office (about once a month), I just set it up at my desk there. If I’m at a conference or in a client’s office, I can still get work done. I’ve gone to coffee shops & wifi cafes more than once for a number of reasons – power or internet outages at home, family stuff that’s distracting, or whatever. If you work in an office and your power goes out, you’re screwed. For me, I pick up my laptop & my cell phone and drive 2 minutes to the local Biggby, grab a latte, and keep going without missing a beat.

#3 – My corner desk & laptop docking station. When I found out I’d be working from home, I needed to create a workspace. While our house is a decent size, the floorplan is pretty open; and I didn’t want to take over any of the main living spaces. We have a small dining room that we weren’t really using, so we turned it into my office. We found a great corner desk that doesn’t take up much space, and fits nicely next to a big window that overlooks our back yard.

I think people overlook the value of windows in office spaces. Our Fluency office has huge windows, so it’s not an issue there. But I’ve worked in plenty of places where most of the employees are stuck in cubicle hell with nary a window in sight. It’s depressing and dreary. What’s even better about my home setup is that I’m looking out at our own yard instead of a parking lot or industrial space. I love it.

I also have a docking station for my laptop, which enables me to connect a full-size (albeit old-school CRT) monitor, an ergonomic keyboard, a mouse, and a printer. Laptops are awesome, but they’re not very ergonomically friendly. The docking station makes it feel like I’m using a regular desktop computer, and it’s way more comfortable.

Incidentally,if you work from home, you really need to read the WebWorkerDaily blog by GigaOm. Many of the posts are geared toward freelance workers, which I’m not; but it’s an indispensable resource for even infrequent remote workers. In fact, this post was inspired by this post on WWD.

What are your favorite home office tools?

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Take Me To The Other Side…

My life as a search marketer is about to change. I’ve accepted a search marketing position with Fluency Media, an interactive agency in Ann Arbor, Michigan, starting on Monday. I’m really excited about the opportunity to experience life on the other side of the in-house / outsource fence. Fluency is doing some exciting things, and I’m thrilled to become a part of the process.

As most of my readers know, I’ve been doing in-house SEM for over 5 years, and have been a vocal advocate of managing search programs in-house. My stance on that hasn’t changed. There absolutely is value in having an in-house expert on staff, and as illustrated in the ongoing discussion at Search Engine Watch forums, some of the best-performing SEM campaigns are done with a combination of in-house and outsourced experts managing them. Having been in the in-house role will help me understand my clients’ challenges and marketing goals, since I’ve been in their shoes.

So, Friday is my last day with MagazineLine. I’ve been with the company for 11 years, doing both offline and online marketing. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for the support of the great staff at MagazineLine. I have truly found a career I’m passionate about, and it all happened because the company was willing to gamble on a new program called Google Adwords, and I had the privilege of building the program from the ground up.

I can’t possibly list all the talented associates who helped me along the way, but I have to give a special thank-you to Karen Henry: my supervisor, colleague, and friend. It was her idea to try Adwords, and it was also her idea to assign it to me as a “special project” (which makes me laugh now, looking at how large the program has become!). Karen, thank you for having enough faith in me to let me try this “experiment,” and thank you for being a sounding board for ideas as the program grew. Thank you especially for your good sense of humor all along the way! It will continue to serve you well.

Even though my day-to-day routine is about to change, I’ll still be blogging, ranting, and postulating here. I’m looking forward to the new challenges ahead.

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A Day Without Email

Due to our growing business and the need for more bandwidth, we’ve been in the process of switching IP addresses at work. We ran the old and new IPs side-by-side for a couple of weeks, and finally turned off the old IPs on Friday.

Needless to say, there were a few glitches. That’s to be expected when technology is involved. What I personally wasn’t prepared for was the email outage that started sometime Saturday.

Like most internet and search marketers, I get a lot of email. Newsletters, forum notifications, account updates, Google Alerts, weekly reports, and more fill my inbox 7 days a week. It usually takes a few extra minutes every Monday to download all my weekend mail. This morning, I noticed that I had very few new messages – and most of them were internal. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I hadn’t gotten any external emails since sometime Saturday morning.

Our IT staff worked all weekend and all day today to get the issue resolved, and we finally started getting external mail a couple of hours ago. But any mail sent during the outage is, apparently, lost forever.

Which leaves me feeling, well, lost. Much of it I can do without – as a matter of fact, I’d been thinking about paring down my e-newsletter list anyway, since I don’t have time to read everything I get. But I really need the reports and notifications from the PPC engines. To make matters worse, some of my Google reports are stuck in “Pending” – even after re-running them and taking out the “email this to me” option. My Google rep is working on it, but since she couldn’t email me earlier today, even that process has been slow and inefficient. We’ve had to actually (gasp!) use the phone! I am really glad I have a rep team in Ann Arbor – I could call them at 9:30 a.m. Eastern instead of having to wait until the Mountain View office opened up.

Asking “what did we do before X technology?” is a common question, and I’m not nearly as plugged-in as a lot of my SEM peers are. I don’t have a Blackberry or an iPhone, I don’t Twitter or Stumble or Digg, and I rarely check email on my cell phone. In fact I rarely use my cell phone. But spending a day without email has been challenging. I do remember life before email, and I’m even (double gasp!!) old enough to remember working without it – but not as an internet marketer. Email is definitely in my “can’t live without it” category.

Update, 9/18/07: Turns out the issues with my pending Google Reports are unrelated to our email outage. Apparently this is a known Adwords issue, and Google’s tech team is working to resolve it. For once, I’m glad this is a Google glitch and not something we caused!

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