26 February 2013 - 2:59am | posted by | 5 comments

Dismay as Marissa Mayer bans working from home for Yahoo! staff

Marissa Mayer: "We need to be one."Marissa Mayer: "We need to be one."

CEO Marissa Mayer has banned Yahoo! staff from working at home. A company memo leaked at the weekend announced that Yahoo! employees would no longer be permitted to work remotely.

"To become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side," says the memo, quoted by Forbes magazine.

"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."

Mayer, 37, took over at Yahoo! last summer while five months pregnant. Hundreds of remote workers have now been asked to report to the office beginning 1 June 2013, says Forbes, if they can’t or don’t want to - too bad. Even occasional flexibility is being discouraged.

The memo reads, “For the rest of us who occasionally have to stay home for the cable guy, please use your best judgment in the spirit of collaboration.”

The announcement, said Forbes, has rankled quite a few Yahoo! employees, as well as supporters of workplace flexibility.

Flexible work arrangements are viewed by many as the way of the future. Flexibility allows time-crunched workers, particularly parents, to better manage work and family responsibilities.

“It’s incredibly disappointing,” says Jennifer Owens, editorial director of Working Mother Media. “It’s a step backwards - a mindset from the days when Yahoo! was launched.”

New mother Mayer is the youngest CEO and one of only a handful of women CEOs leading Fortune 500 companies.

Asked for details of the new policy and the rationale behind it, a Yahoo! spokesperson wrote back to Forbes, “We don’t comment on internal matters.”

Some experts think the idea that traditional face-time brings increased productivity is little more than management bias.

“A variety of studies show that telecommuting and working from home is associated with higher productivity,” says David Lewin, management professor at the University of California, Los Angeles.

“Analytically, it’s not at all clear this would benefit Yahoo! they could wind up with negative performance effects.”

Working from home can cut an hour or more of commuting time every day, says Lewin. And employees are so grateful for the flexibility that they’re often more loyal to the company than the nine-to-five workers.


26 Feb 2013 - 09:39

It's a difficult thing to have a set opinion on. While Mayer is right to point out that people working side by side can aid collaboration, this doesn't apply to every employee and, considering the positives of flexible working, it's a shame this policy is ending for everyone. Maybe if Yahoo invested in some tech that increased connectivity between remote and office workers, the situation could be improved. I wrote an article on this subject quite recently:


26 Feb 2013 - 14:02
themr19839's picture

Risk-averse control-freakery, by the look of it. A desperate bid by a weak CEO to stamp authority on an ailing company

26 Feb 2013 - 15:20
Bristolmary's picture

In some ways I can understand her wanting all staff together to try and build the team and the company back up. However, times and technology have changed. Gone are the days you couldn't call someone if they were using the internet and the line was therefore engaged. Now people have 1+ phones each, skype and other video conferencing equipment is available. Just because you work remotely doesn't mean you're not part of a team. I used to work remotely from my office up to 3 sometimes 4 days a week, it never stopped me or the rest of my office from feeling I wasn't around to help out or participate. All they had to do is call or skype me and I was there. This smacks slightly as themr19839 says of her trying to control everything and also of someone who possibly doesn't trust her staff to do their job.

26 Feb 2013 - 15:33
NicolaLDunn's picture

I understand the thinking behind her comments but it does make it difficult for working mothers. There is a lot of wasted talent as mothers take roles that offer more flexibility. I work full time and office based, and would relish being able to have the flexibility.

26 Feb 2013 - 17:29
Bloated Mess's picture

Oh, Yahoo are still around?


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