Like many, I was surprised to hear of CEO Marissa Mayer’s decision to ban telecommuting at Yahoo. The memo from HR lead Jackie Reses states, “speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home…we need to be one Yahoo! And that starts with physically being together.” I can see her point – I appreciate working from the APQC office and believe it increases my collaboration and innovation. Having said that, half of my colleagues work remotely on a regular basis and I feel equally connected to them through regular phone calls and the occasional face-to-face meeting.
Mayer’s decision sounds dated given current trends in telecommuting - research shows that 24 percent of employed Americans report working at least some hours from home each week. APQC research has found that organizations must make a sincere effort to support employees’ personal and family lives to retain and engage a strong workforce. APQC best practice partner General Mills counts telecommuting as one way they promote a flexible workforce and maintain high employee retention; and telecommuting appears to work well at some of Yahoo’s Silicon Valley peers.
Yet if the telecommuting culture at Yahoo is suffering from abuse, maybe an all-out telecommuting ban is the only thing that can save this struggling organization. If Mayer’s plan works, we all may need to reevaluate our hopes that telecommuting is the holy grail of work-life balance.
Only time will tell the impact of Mayer’s ban. In the interim, I hope the news of Yahoo’s decision will spark conversation in your workplace – what’s your take on telecommuting policies?