Jarter Jargon

Yahoo and the Decision to Bar Working from Home

Posted on: March 4, 2013

Recently, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer barred employees from working from home. The reason? To boost “collaboration and communication.” This now requires all employees to physically report to one of Yahoo’s locations.

“Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings,” Jackie Reses, Yahoo’s head of HR, wrote in the memo. “Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home. We need to be one Yahoo!, and that starts with physically being together.”

While it obviously frustrated employees, a huge debate erupted over the internet. Some also took the opportunity to recruit for their own companies calling for Yahoo employees upset with the ban to reconsider their career. Not only did the new rule seem to buck the trend in tech workplaces, but it also appeared to go against Yahoo’s recent efforts to bring more of the perks common at other tech companies to Yahoo. Under Mayer’s leadership, Yahoo has given employees free meals, freeiPhone 5s and initiated weekly all-hands meetings.

On one hand, I understand Mayer’s logic. Synergistic meetings and in-person discussions lead (quickly) to solutions. It also works to weed out employees who might not necessarily be working at Yahoo for the right reasons. Nicholas Carlson at Business Insider hears from a source that there are a “huge number” of remote workers in customer service, marketing and engineering, many of whom “weren’t productive.” For Mayer, the new rule will either force these workers to work in the office, which the company believes will help productivity, or force them to quit, which will help the company cut costs.

On the other hand, is it fair to completely cut out “Work from Home” days?

I can understand the need to boost productivity, however, employee morale has a huge impact on the work that gets done on a day to day basis.

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