does anyone telecommute? do you work from home some days? I remember when telecommuting was a new thing and they claimed it was how everyone would work one day. Saying how much it would benefit everyone and the environment. Now it sounds like they aren't feeling it anymore.
Yahoo’s ban on telecommuting brings up question — who benefits?
By Rick Hampson
Mon Mar 11, 2013 8:48 PM
It’s been a nervous fortnight for many telecommuters since Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer announced plans to corral her telecommuters.
Ravi Shankar Gajendran, a University of Illinois business professor
who’s spent years studying telecommuting, says the furor “illustrates a
fundamental tension about telecommuting: Is it a business strategy, or
some sort of employee right, like health insurance?”
Translation: Is telecommuting good for employer or employee?
Both, Ganjendran says. “Its benefits are modest but numerous. I don’t see it going away.”
What’s the big deal?
Last month, Mayer said she would end Yahoo’s work-at-home policy to
foster collaboration and innovation by bringing employees physically
Mayer, who joined Yahoo from Google last year, apparently was
dismayed by the vacant parking spaces and cubicles at Yahoo
headquarters, and by a check of VPN logs that reportedly showed a
decided lack of remote worker engagement.
This came after Bank of America said late last year that it was
reviewing its liberal telecommuting policy, and before Best Buy, where
telecommuting was virtually an employee entitlement, announced that
henceforth out-of-office work would be subject to negotiation between
managers and workers.
Who gets to telecommute?
It’s unclear how many Americans telecommute (or “telework,” to use
the diplomatically correct term), in part because there are many
definitions. Gajendran estimates that 5 percent of all workers in
non-family businesses work at home at least one day a week, a percentage
that has grown in recent years.
A Harris Poll taken Feb. 26 to March 4 found that a third of American
workers who are not self-employed say they spend some time during
normal business hours working from home. One in 10 say they work
primarily or exclusively from home; 8 percent spend about half their
time working there, 17 percent less than half their time.
Most who try telecommuting like it.
Even people who don’t telecommute like the idea. According to the
Harris survey, more than four in five workers call working from home a
“significant job perk” that enables employees to balance work and family
needs. Almost two-thirds say it increases worker productivity.
Is it here to stay?
The very idea of limits on telecommuting unnerves some. For many
younger workers, that flexibility is a given. For baby boomers, who may
have started their work lives tied to desks as their parents were—
rushing to get in before the boss arrived, lingering in the evening
until he left — it can be more complicated; working at home feels so
good it must be wrong.
The Harris Poll, while generally reflecting approval of
telecommuting, suggests such guilt could be well-founded. More than four
in five workers say some of the best ideas and decisions can come from
impromptu, in-person discussions; that working in an office improves
communication and collaboration.
“Physically Together”: Here’s the Internal Yahoo No-Work-From-Home Memo for Remote Workers and Maybe More
“Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home,”
reads the memo to employees from HR head Jackie Reses. “We need to be
one Yahoo!, and that starts with physically being together.”
Painfully awkward as this is phrased, it means every Yahoo get to your desks stat!
The changes begin in June, according to the Yahoo memo.
After that, employees who work from home must comply without
exception or quit. One top manager was told that there would be little
flexibility on the issue.
The anger from impacted employees was strong today, because many felt
they were initially hired with the assumption that they could work more
In fact, even waiting for the cable guy is questionable. “And, 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,” wrote
The tone and tactics have infuriated some at the company. Wrote one
impacted Yahoo employee to me: “Even if that was what was previously
agreed to with managers and HR, or was a part of the package to take a
position, tough … It’s outrageous and a morale killer.”
Most tech companies encourage workers to stay on their campuses,
offering free food and other perks. But none enforce such rules beyond
staff needed to operate an office.
“Our engineers would not put up with that,” said one tech exec. “So, we’d never focus on it.”
In the comments section of my first story on the HR change at Yahoo, WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg wrote:
“For anyone who enjoys working from wherever they like in the world,
and is interested in WordPress, Automattic is 100% committed to being
distributed. 130 of our 150 people are outside of San Francisco.”
The issue is an interesting and controversial one, with some certain
that working at home is the wave of the future, while others considering
it hurtful to productivity.
Well, we’ll presumably see which this way goes in time.
Earlier, when asked about the change, a Yahoo spokesperson said the
company does not comment on internal matters. The memo was released
after my story on the change was published this morning.
But, you don’t need any comment when you can read for yourself the new working order at the Silicon Valley Internet giant:
YAHOO! PROPRIETARY AND CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION — DO NOT FORWARD
Over the past few months, we have introduced a number of great
benefits and tools to make us more productive, efficient and fun. With
the introduction of initiatives like FYI, Goals and PB&J, we want
everyone to participate in our culture and contribute to the positive
momentum. From Sunnyvale to Santa Monica, Bangalore to Beijing — I think
we can all feel the energy and buzz in our offices.
To become the absolute best place to work, communication and
collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side.
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.
Beginning in June, we’re asking all employees with work-from-home
arrangements to work in Yahoo! offices. If this impacts you, your
management has already been in touch with next steps. And, 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. Being a Yahoo isn’t
just about your day-to-day job, it is about the interactions and
experiences that are only possible in our offices.
Thanks to all of you, we’ve already made remarkable progress as a company — and the best is yet to come.
Edited by PurpleHaze - Mar 12 2013 at 6:39pm