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Monday, February 25, 2013

Will Yahoo Increase Productivity by Banning People From Working at Home

When Marissa Mayer swooped into Yahoo last year, she tried to make it a more desirable place to work, adding perks like free food and smartphones.

But for some employees, that spirit changed last week, when the company issued a new policy requiring all employees to report to work at Yahoo offices and not remotely, according to a report published by All Things D, a tech blog. In a memo, the company said it wanted to increase collaboration and momentum.

The new policy has given rise to complaints from affected employees. More broadly, it has surprised Yahoo watchers because tech companies, while known for being demanding meritocracies, also tend to be flexible workplaces that prioritize making employees’ lives easier.

And, as working remotely becomes more common across industries because of technologies like video conferencing, it struck ome analysts as particularly ironic that Yahoo would come down against it.

Still, tech companies also prioritize collaboration and theorize that new ideas spring from spontaneous chats between employees in the cafeteria or at the gym. That is another reason they provide such on-campus perks.

“Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people and impromptu team meetings,” Jackie Reses, Yahoo’s director of human resources, wrote in the memo. “Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home.”

At Yahoo, the change largely affects people who previously had agreements to work remotely full-time, but it even applies to those who want to work at home once in awhile.

“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,” the Yahoo memo said.