It was the email heard ‘round the world; on Monday, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer informed her telecommuting employees that no longer could they work from home. As of this June, all Yahoo at-home staff must become in-office workers. The reason for this policy change? According to Mayer, it’s “what is right for Yahoo right now.” The underlying message of her statement is that perhaps workplace productivity isn’t all that it could be at Yahoo, and Mayer aims to correct that deficit. And ever since that confidential email was leaked to the press, professionals from all fields and industries are giving their two cents on the pros and cons of the announcement.
So is Marissa Mayer right? Is ending telecommuting the correct call for Yahoo? Given that we’re still three months out from the policy going into effect, it’ll be some time before that verdict can be made. However, that hasn’t stopped thousands of people from taking a side in the work from home vs. work in the office debate.
Given that the number of remote workers has increased by approximately 73 percent over the last several years, it’s no surprise that people have strong views on whether telecommuting helps or hurts workplace productivity and office morale. Can there even be office morale if no one is physically in the office? Let’s discuss.
The Benefits of Working from Home
The technological advances of the past several decades have forever altered the landscape of the American workplace. No longer must you attend an office meeting; you can simply be Skyped into the conversation. If you want to connect with a coworker or client, you can choose one of a half-dozen different modes of communication. Email, text, instant message… and if you must, you can still go the old-fashioned route and call them.
With multiple platforms that now allow you to upload files for all to see and use, it no longer is necessary to share cubicles to get your work done. And that’s exactly why so many people opt to be remote workers. After all, why waste an hour of time and gas commuting to work – each way! – only to accomplish what you can do right at home? Plus, you can do it on your own time. As long as you finish on schedule, whether you’d rather work at two in the afternoon or two in the morning is up to you.
Given the demands of family that typically necessitate a two-income home, having at least one parent that telecommutes can also translate into a better balance of work and life. For those with kids, not needing daycare or babysitters on a daily basis is another huge work-at-home boon.
The Advantages of Coming to the Office
But what if your kids refuse to let you work? What if they won’t stop interrupting that company conference call or web meeting? Which is why many individuals strongly oppose the use of remote workers. While some may claim that it means more productivity from employees, others are not as convinced. Distractions of all kinds, including kids, broken washing machines, family visits, and even web surfing, can derail a productive workday. And what about that all-important concept of brainstorming?
Many companies place a high priority on having their employees come together each day in the same place because it fosters ideas and innovation. Over the last few days, articles on the Mayer decision have been discussing how inspiration happens.
Sure, you can always IM or call your boss or coworker to talk over new ideas. However, many Marissa Mayer supporters agree with her decision because more often than not, company creativity is a spontaneous event that occurs in the least likely places like the hallway or break room. If you’re not there to accidentally bump into a fellow employee, that epiphany may never happen.
The Reasons Why Marissa Mayer’s Decision Is Making News
However, we have yet to address the Yahoo elephant in the room. It’s one thing to build a company on the principal that everyone must come to the office each day. It’s quite another thing to suddenly do an about-face on a work-from-home policy that’s been in effect for years.
The reason why Mayer’s change is striking a chord with even non-Yahoo employees is that it forces workers to dramatically alter their everyday lives. Now they must make allowances for commute times, gas expenses, and babysitters. Some may even have to move to be in compliance with the policy change. Some Yahoo staffers may become resentful of these changes, especially if they see no reason for it.
If you consider yourself a hardworking and diligent employee, does it matter if you’re at home or in the office? Which speaks to the other unspoken sentiment that the Mayer email implicitly states. Does Mayer trust her employees? Is this policy change really about inciting ideas or keeping tabs? While her decision may aim to increase office morale, it may actually be destroying it.
What do you think of the Yahoo policy change? Do you have a strong opinion on people working from home and why?