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Yahoo's Mayer Bans Telecommuting

The CEO's decision to forbid employees from working at home has stirred up a storm of controversy.
Posted February 26, 2013
By

Cynthia Harvey


A recently leaked internal memo has revealed that Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has canceled all agreements which currently allow employees to work from home. Starting June 1, every Yahoo is expected to show up at the office every day. Predictably, the decision has been widely criticized, both by Yahoo employees and by experts who say telecommuting actually boosts productivity.

All Things D's Kara Swisher first broke the story and ran the Mayer memo, which read, "To become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side. That is why it is critical that we are all present in our offices. Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings. Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home. We need to be one Yahoo!, and that starts with physically being together. Beginning in June, we’re asking all employees with work-from-home arrangements to work in Yahoo! offices."

Time's Dan Kadlec commented, "In a memo read round the world, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has made it clear that working at home will not be an option on her watch. For a contemporary technology-driven company this is a striking position, one that appears to set back the modern workplace and working parents by about two decades. Eliminating the ability to telecommute eats away at the core of what Yahoo, an Internet pioneer, and Mayer, a new mother, would seem to be all about. Predictably, reaction was swift. Mommy blogs expressed outrage at this anti-family policy. Technology blogs called it misguided. Workplace blogs said the ban might even be unlawful, though that’s hard to fathom."

Computerworld's Sharon Gaudin noted, "The call to end telecommuting was a surprising move since many companies are increasingly allowing employees to work from home offices, saving workers time spent in their cars and saving the company from the cost of hosting workers on premise. Telecommuting also is seen as a work/life balance perk for employees who are increasingly asked to work evenings and weekends. 'I think some companies do think about it, but the best companies want to create as wide a pool of potential employees as possible,' said Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with ZK Research. 'I think it could limit their ability to hire new people who aren't local to Yahoo, and it could cause Yahoo to lose some existing talent from people who do telecommute.'"

Bloomberg's Kirsten Salyer observed, "Of course, employees are also tempted to sneak in other activities while working at home. According to a Citrix Systems Inc. survey of 1,013 American office workers, 26 percent say they take naps, 43 percent watch TV or a movie and 24 percent admit to having a drink while working remotely. That's the kind of data that can really give a manager pause. Even so, Yahoo's new rule just doesn't seem to fit with the new image Mayer is trying to fashion. Last month, she emphasized that mobile is a big priority for the company. Doesn't that also tell her something about the changing nature of the workplace? And is it wise for a tech company competing for top talent to limit workers' flexibility across the board?"




Tags: Yahoo, Marissa Mayer, telecommuting


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