Should Workers Be Able to Telecommute?

Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer says no.

While transportation managers and ecologists praise the work-at-home movement for its fuel savings, Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer says it is hurting creativity.

Mayer, whose company helped pioneer the concept of having the world of information at your fingertips, is now ordering those fingers to come to the office fulltime by June. Mayer joined Yahoo! last April.

She set an example against working from home by taking only two weeks of maternity leave after giving birth to her first child, son Macallister Bogue, on Sept. 30. She shocked some by saying that raising her first child was "easy."

Now she's cracked the whip for Yahoo's 14,000 employees, saying they are missing the creativity and water cooler collaboration that comes with working in an office, according to an internal memo that was leaked.

What do you think? Should folks be able to work from home? Does it hurt their work ethic, collaboration or "togetherness?" Tell us in the comments.

Joe Kane February 27, 2013 at 02:07 PM
This is an option that sometimes works, and sometimes doesn't. It depends on the type of work that is being done and whether people are honestly applying themselves to the work and communications that are needed in order to be productive. At times I have worked from home in the past and I ended up working more hours than I normally do because I was working with customers across many time zones. However, I have also worked with others who said that they were working from home, but they would not respond to my requests for hours at a time. Many of these people no longer work for my company, so I believe that their bosses finally found out how much work they were actually doing. However, this makes it tough for others who wish to petition the company to work from home either a daily basis or those one-off situations where it is best to be working from home for both the company and the employee.
Paul February 27, 2013 at 05:17 PM
I have seen telecommuting fail in only two instances one would be a people slacking a home - this is a hiring problem not a telecomuting problem and I would guess that such a person will find a way to underproduce wether they are at home or at the office Secondly would be due to poor tools given to the work force. This is a management problem and not a worker problem. Personnally I work out of my house a few days and week and it has not hurt my production in fact it has enhanced it since my office is over and hour a way it provides me additional time to work each day that would otherwise be spent in the car
Sharon Burkett February 27, 2013 at 08:19 PM
It's too bad for most of the telecommuters -- the ones who were happy and productive. I'd be interested to know whether Yahoo's going to be subsidizing the workers who now need to buy cars, pay for commuter rail, pay for an extra few hours of day care per day, etc. I expect not. I think this is a way to increase productivity -- people are going to leave the company, and Yahoo won't have to pay unemployment benefits.
Tree Hugger February 27, 2013 at 09:14 PM
just another instance where Yahoo will lose to Google. They've already been buried in the search engine wars. Google treats their workers pretty decently too. I wonder how many will jump ship.......
Ron Goodenow February 27, 2013 at 09:51 PM
Ample research has been gathered over the past 20 years to show that telecommuting will work if programs include good training and management, good tools, sensitivity to the home environment and ample opportunities (weekly at best) for face to face meetings. Oh yes, and a company that people want to work for. There are many variations on the telecommuting or telework theme. Some of us, self included, have worked for many corporations and universities as teleworkers for decades. My last non-home office was 27 years ago. Yahoo is going down as a company, and has been for some time. As that happens employees start going off the grid long before they leave. Discipline evaporates. If all companies in Northern California ended telecommuting the highways would be absolutely impossible, pollution would increase and that would be the end of the road for much of the prosperity there. As for Google, it provides many options for work. Most of the employees I know of like to go to the office, and you would too given all the perks and the creative environment. But when there is a family reason, one needs quiet to get a project done, or the weather means bad traffic it is a no brainer to work at home.
Joe Kane February 27, 2013 at 10:01 PM
It will be interesting to see how this plays out going forward. Marissa Mayer must have found something pretty disturbing in looking into this issue and how it impacts her company. Her top priority is to the company and if the telecommuting policy, and its results, are negatively impacting the company, then she needs to implement some changes. These will definitely impact individuals in a negative way, but until those bad practices are corrected, they cannot go on this way.
Ron Goodenow February 27, 2013 at 11:53 PM
You're correct, and it is entirely possible that she discovered there really was no coherent telecommuting policy and people worked at home or offsite willy nilly. Or that the policy, as is, was so utterly inefficient or wasting of resources that they have to start over, which is very expensive to do. Its a tremendous gamble. Most large organizations cannot be turned on a dime. I would be very interested in what kind of analysis took place, and by whom. And how many employees worked at home and for what reasons. Bad habits are bad habits and there are a lot of desk bound employees who don't answer calls. One of my relatives was hired by Yahoo a few years ago. He went to work and saw such chaos in the office that he jumped to Google in less than a week's time. There are state and federal agencies that constantly fine tune their telecommuting policies on the basis of oversight and study. The same is true of successful large companies, but many tech ones (Zynga being a perfect example), may have be so focused on technology that it forgot it was a workplace. It'll be interesting to see if Yahoo survives. I wouldn't bet on it


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