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Boo-Hoo at Yahoo: No More Working From Home

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Tue Feb 26 2013

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Bucking a popular trend as well as evidence that working from home increases employees’ productivity, Yahoo is eliminating its work-from-home option. Citing a need for more interaction and communication among employees, Director of HR, Jackie Reses, said in a statement “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.”

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In other companies, the trend is to increase workplace flexibility. Young employees expect it, and companies embrace it, not just  as a retention factor, but as a way to save significant money on  real estate, reduce their carbon footprint, and remove the stress of commuting.  At Aetna, where 47 percent of employees work remotely, the company has saved $78 million in real estate costs, according to a spokesperson.

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Marissa Mayer, Yahoo’s new CEO and a new mother, recently paraphrased football coach, Vince Lombardi, when describing her life’s priorities.  “God, family, and Yahoo, in that order,” she said when asked what mattered most to her now.  The gap between that statement and the new policy at Yahoo may disappoint those who expected Mayer to champion work/family issues for women.

Professor of Management, John Sullivan, said in a New York Times interview, “If you want innovation, then you need interaction.  If you want productivity, then you want people working from home.“ Yahoo’s highly visible policy change will no doubt prompt other companies to weigh that tradeoff.

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