Yahoo stirred passionate debate this week after sending out an internal memo banning employees from working from home. The company asserted that working from home put a damper on innovation and efficiency. This perspective comes from a tech giant that has pushed instant messaging and email into the homes of many people around the world.
The company memo stated plainly:
“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.”
Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has drawn sharp criticism for the decision. Many people don’t understand how a recent mother would reduce workers’ flexibility.
On the other hand, some former employees went to The Huffington Post with complaints that some workers were milking the company. Mashable reported that some employees formed startups while on Yahoo’s payroll.
A Forbes contributor challenged the idea that working from home is unproductive directly:
“Now, let’s look at the idea that [work at home] actually feeds productivity. I’m raising my hand here, because I am far more productive working from home than I feel working in an office.”
Others have viewed the decision as simply misguided, as can be seen in this sarcastic tweet:
I think Meyer’s right. Yahoo’s problem was never lack of vision, misjudged markets, or lousy products. It was using the Internet to work.
— Ken (@SwimsAfterEatin) March 1, 2013
Some tech companies have started to woo telecommuters bummed by Yahoo’s recent decision:
Hey Yahoos: Cloudera’s sensible about telecommuting and is hiring. dthin.gs/WalvPO bit.ly/VGIwtq
— Mike Olson (@mikeolson) February 24, 2013
Yahoo employees currently banned from working from home will be forced to return to Yahoo offices starting in June.