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Yahoo! Kills Telecommuting: What’s the Big Deal?

Yahoo! Kills Telecommuting: What’s the Big Deal?

When word leaked that Yahoo! is banning telecommuting effective June, critics blasted the company for setting women back decades. I’m not one of those critics.

Even though I’m a great champion of working from home—and I wrote a New York Times bestselling book on the topic, one company’s decision about its home-based workers does not kill a movement toward a more flexible workplace. Further, there are many other forms of flexibility–many of which are and will continue to be available to Yahoo! employees–besides working at home.

Compressed work weeks, varied start and stop times, job sharing, reduced hours—plus perks of convenience such as the availability of fully cooked meals, access to dry cleaning services at work, back up childcare and more—all offer a form of flexibility to employees.

Every CEO is charged with improving productivity and driving innovation. If Marissa Mayer believes that’s best done with everyone working under one roof, so be it. Working from home doesn’t guarantee strong productivity nor does showing up for duty to the corporate headquarters prevent slacking.

The beauty of the American workplace is that if you strongly disagree with the boss’s decision or the company’s policies, you’re free to get another job elsewhere.

What’s YOUR take? Tell us why below.


  1. I completely agree with this perspective. I actually wrote a similar post about it myself yesterday: We need to stand behind leaders who make unpopular choices to achieve a vision. And like you say, if you don’t like it, it’s time to move on to another place where you are more aligned. I’ve had to do that a few times myself and it always works out better for everyone. I say bravo to her bold move.

  2. Barbara Clark

    I find it ironic that a company that is computer focused would eliminate it’s work from home force. When working online I am constantly in touch with co workers via instant message and email. There is also skype for face to face talking. I actually find that I am more in touch via the computer then I was in a brick and motor environment. To me having work from home employees helps the companies bottom line as the employee provides their own computer and work space. I can see requiring people to come to meetings on occasion but do not see how people are more creative in the hustle and bustle of the office.

  3. There are pros and Cons for working from home. Pros are saves alot of time for people who commute a distance to work, decreasing costs on food, clothing , parking and gas. Cons for those who don’t have alot of discipline there can be alot of “lost” time when working without others. There is also something to be said fro morale when you work in an office setting. Depending on exactly what kind of work you are doing lack of people interaction can be a big turn off. Deadlines, projects, brainstorming and everything that goes along with people interaction is missing.
    For the best of both worlds a part time at home and part time in the office would be a great solution when needed. And then there is accountability- if you are working it shows!

  4. I agree with this article completely! I work from home and, while I love it’s conveniences, KNOW that I’d be much more productive if I was at an office somewhere. Fortunately, I work for myself, so if something doesn’t get done, I’m only hurting my own bottom line. So things. get. done. But if I had a boss 25 miles away that wasn’t watching over my shoulder, I could see letting things slide that shouldn’t.

  5. I absolutely agree with Barbara.

    I would add that I find Marissa Mayer’s move very old school for someone who is supposed to be innovative.

    My husband (a brilliant, sexy IT genius 🙂 works from home and he saves SO MUCH TIME by not having to commute, office gossip & office parties (LOL) He does however have the ability to totally focus on his work and he is not side tracked by our playful puppies 🙂

    But back to Melissa; I find it disappointing that a woman in her position is not using her full creativity to find solution but instead acts like a ball-buster.

  6. I find Yahoo’s move incredibly hypocritical, on a number of fronts. As a working mother, Marissa Mayer has shown that she has double standards for herself versus her workforce (building a nursery next to her office?! telecommuting when she was pregnant?!).

    More than that, Yahoo! is highlighting one the most blatant falsehoods in today’s work culture — if there is no approved telecommuting policy in place, then the company’s employees aren’t allowed to work from home (and therefore won’t be paid for work that occurs outside the office). However, this is a company that gives its employees iPhone’s as a “perk”… they WANT them connected and accessible and able to work from whenever, wherever they are. I also wrote a blog for Huffington Post on this topic —


  7. You brought out for me a central element missing from the “for” or “against” argument and that is choice. The beauty of the 21st century workforce is that we have more than one choice for how and where we work. I believe that Mayer made a tough choice (welcome to leadership baby where every choice is not popular!) in an effort to redirect a company that has lost its way. Some of the Yahoo! employees have applauded the move as a much needed edict to redefine a company that has lost its relevance in a fast moving marketplace. In our digital culture it is easy to demonize someone who seems to be not on board but there is tremendous value to on site work.

  8. @MeetDonnaW

    I am a huge advocate with working virtually – I get behind MM, yahoo leader, on this one. Leaders need to be able to know people in their teams face to face and work side by side. I like Tory’s suggestions to help those that may need flex time etc. MM is digging to find out what us in error at yahoo. That is good.

  9. Geri Lafferty

    As someone who lives in the San Francisco Bay area — close to Yahoo! HQ, I may have a slight different take on this announcement. It is quite common for workers in Silicon Valley to work outside of the office. Not every employee benefits from in-person activities. Many of us who work online find it much less distracting to work AWAY from the hub-bub of workplace activity. And let’s not forget the two-hour commute (pretty much an hour each way, maybe a little less, for most folks commuting in Silicon Valley that is 100% unproductive work time.

    It’s not for everyone, but for those of us who thrive in the quiet and solitude of working from a home office, going back to commuting every day (and this seems to be a 5-days-per-week directive) isn’t going to sit well with most. Some will have to comply without better options, but I predict many will just move on over to one of the other tech companies that do allow a more flexible in-office schedule.

    I can see requiring attendance at key events and even a day per week when everyone is in the office . . . but to completely change a company culture back to 1999 is a risky endeavor.

    Will be interesting to see how it all plays out a few months from now (maybe sooner).

  10. Rhonda Bellamy Hodge

    Imagine this, a person doesn’t want to show-up for WORK at someone else’s company. Imagine the pumps being on your feet: I guarantee you would want your employees to show up for whatever reason: accountability, collaboration, team building, etc. That’s the nature of work, whether we work for ourselves or someone else – we all have to do somethings we would rather not do. When I left my last corporate job to take care of my family, the new manager had instituted a report back to the office at 4 p.m. for the sales reps. She said she wanted to make sure we were working – despite our great numbers. It was inconsiderate for those of us who had territories far from the office – but it was her choice to make and my choice to leave. I would have been on the road for an extra 2 hours just to let her see my charming face at the end of the day. After two months when we moved even further away from the office and my kids finished the school year – I left; with a President Club trip on the table. It wasn’t worth the stress and disrespect to stay for another two months. In the end, that’s what choice is all about. I am grateful for the benefits of being an entrepreneur. Though when I need extra help, they need to show up at the “office”. That’s what bosses do – make the best decisions for the whole company!

  11. Not every business decision is an attack on women. The false outrage is not healthy either. As a CEO, I make decisions everyday based on the overall impact it will have on the company and EVERY worker. Not everyone is disciplined enough to work from home, myself included. One thing I have found as that our employees that work from home are not connected with the teams in the office. Face to face interaction is so important to working relationships. Skype, facetime and provide great alternatives but nothing beats real human interaction. Healthy companies understand it’s about flexibility for sure but the bottom line is it’s about what’s sustainable for the company as a whole.

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