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


By Noel Young, Correspondent

February 26, 2013 | 3 min read

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.

Marissa Mayer: "We need to be one."

"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.


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