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Yahoo Recently Cancelled Work-From-Home Policy For Its Employees — Good Idea or Not?

Will reversing the trend of letting more employees work from home improve productivity or just contribute to more traffic and pollution problems?

Yahoo made news recently when it decided to pull work-from-home privileges from its employees. According to a story by USA Today, beginning in June, Yahoo workers will need to go into the office to take care of their daily workloads.

The news of a reversal in policy by this tech giant came as an unpleasant surprise to many of the 10 percent U.S. workers who work from home at least one day a week. Patch editors all work remotely. 

According to the USA Today story, working remotely gives many who do so an affordable opportunity to work and raise children at the same time. Working remotely has been encouraged, in many instances, as a way to help cut down on pollution and traffic issues. With today’s high cost of gas and child care services, those who have become accustomed to it might not like the idea of any move to reverse the trend.

"It's the only thing that has made our lives remotely possible and affordable and sort of possible to raise kids," Lopa Pal, 36, an employee with the Greenbelt Alliance told USA Today." She went on to say that when she asked to work from home two days a week, her employer said he didn’t care if she worked from a beach in Tahiti, as long as she got the work done.

Yahoo reportedly said bringing workers into the office would make for greater collaboration and fun.

What do you think? Is it time to reverse the trend and bring employees back into offices? Do you think such a move would improve productively or just exacerbate traffic and pollution problems caused by busy commutes?

Michael Robinson February 28, 2013 at 01:47 PM
A lot is written about how Automattic is an officeless workplace, but this is the most recent: http://ma.tt/2012/09/future-of-work/ Basically, it seems to work best when it's built into the company from the start, as it is with Patch. You don't have a legacy office to coordinate with like Yahoo does, and that eliminates all the problems that come from having an office culture and an officeless culture in one company.
Sharon Swanepoel February 28, 2013 at 01:59 PM
I agree Michael - we haven't have it any other way - we began working this way.
Tom Laverick February 28, 2013 at 02:25 PM
Other companies are still continuing in the remote worker trend. It makes perfect sense to have people working from home, it reduces costs for the employee and for the company, if they adopt the correct policies. With workers who spend less than 80% of the work week in the office, the company really doesn't need to lease space for that worker. I am not sure what Yahoo has up their sleeve or why they are even considering this move.
John B February 28, 2013 at 02:32 PM
I agree it needs to be a greenfield operation for it to be optimally effective. I think Yahoo's CEO is trying to get her arms around waste right now and purge what is broken within the system of remote employment. I also think once she's gone through that process she will systematically bring remote employment back to Yahoo with sensible standards and measurements put in place to insure efficiency as well as accountability. I have a number of my staff who balance office time and working remotely. It not only gives them flexibility but it has been a morale booster as well. I will emphasize that face time is important for obvious reasons.
Vanzetta Evans (Editor) February 28, 2013 at 05:55 PM
While I do enjoy working from home (where I can wear yoga pants all I want!), I do miss the collaboration and camaraderie you get when you work side by side with someone. Just yesterday, I got a call from a colleague and he probably spent all day trying to call several of us when if we worked in an office, he could have just talked to us by the copier and gotten an answer right away instead of waiting for us to call him back. Or sometimes I get stuck deciding on a headline. If I were in an office, I could just ask my neighbor "Hey, what do you think of this?" Instead of having to send an email or just not asking at all. I see why Meyers wants to get rid of the work from home option. Just hoping Patch doesn't do away with it. If they do, they can expect me to still come in to work in my yoga pants!
Edward February 28, 2013 at 07:32 PM
The remote worker program while acceptable within most F500's is looked upon as a perk versus a rule of thumb. Each request to work remotely should be handled on a case by case and very temporary basis e.g. during the flu season if you want to ensure business continuity limiting contact of employees with anyone that comes down with the flu is considered smart business. My viewpoint is as long as the predefined remote worker policies and met top performers earn the right to present an argument about working remotely when kids are sick, grand parents need a sitter, they are expecting a delivery etc. Low performers never get to work remotely.
Greg March 01, 2013 at 01:13 PM
Working from home only works where employees have a timeline and a set of deliverables. I work at a company has been experimenting with this for the last two years and from what I can see, its just paid vacation for the vast majority of those who are doing it.
Mr. B March 01, 2013 at 01:22 PM
It takes a disciplined person to work from home. There are lots of distractions: kids, laundry, lawn needing mowing, tossing a ball with the dog, sunny day by the pool, etc.
Chris P March 01, 2013 at 02:01 PM
My company has people who work from home several days a week. There are also some, including myself, who work remotely all the time. It depends on the job and the individual. My company has sites around the country and in foreign countries. There are tools available that allow video conferencing as well conference bridges that really helps when working remotely.
Good Grief Y'all March 02, 2013 at 03:06 PM
Good idea or not, depends on the business and the company structure. For the telecommuters, have them come into the office a day or part of a day once a week or a couple times a month, but not on Mondays or Fridays. This wouldn't require an individual cube - use a conference room or common area for a meeting or workshop. That might be the best of both worlds.

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