Yahoo employees soon barred from working at home


Marissa Mayer, who became Yahoo's CEO last year, is requiring employees to no longer work from home.

Yahoo's Marissa Mayer has been making a lot of changes since taking over the reins of CEO last year, and her latest move will soon bar employees from working at home.

According to an internal memo leaked to AllThingsD's Kara Swisher, all employees must work from Yahoo facilities beginning in June. That move impacts not only those who worked from home full time, also those who may only work from home a day or two a week. Swisher claims the memo was sent to her by "a plethora of very irked Yahoo employees."

The memo, sent by Yahoo's head of HR, Jackie Reses, states that the company's employees "need to be working side-by-side" because of the importance of communication and collaboration in new initiatives. That includes not only Yahoo's domestic offices, but also its offices overseas.

"Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home," Reses wrote. "We need to be one Yahoo!, and that starts with physically being together."

Swisher claims many Yahoo employees are irate at the decree, with one emailing her to say, "Even if that was what was previously agreed to with managers and HR, or was a part of the package to take a position, tough. … It's outrageous and a morale killer."

While some technology companies such as Mayer's former employer Google strongly suggest employees work from the office, most have more flexibility. Microsoft, for instance, started a program in 2007 to get more employees to work from home, and a Microsoft Italy job page touts working from home as a benefit.

Source: AllThingsD via CNET | Image via Yahoo

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I've been working from home for a small company 4 days out of 5 for the past 5+ years (all devs do), and we all meet at the office on the remaining day to discuss face-to-face the current situation, who's working on what, the coming plans, etc.

It's great to have some face time, go to lunch with your coworkers, etc, but *all* of us agree that this day is pretty much a write-off in terms of productivity. More often than not, we head back home right after lunch unless someone insists on longer face-to-face meetings than usual.

We "meet" daily over Skype for a few minutes in the morning, and then we all make ourserves available on Skype and email throughout the day--there's hardly any communication problems. I live an hour away from the office (on a good day--taking backroads and avoiding traffic)--that's freeing up an extra 2 hours every day. If I'm working at home, I'm much more likely (and willing) to continue working into the evening than if I had a commute.

As for others complaining about distractions--learn some self-discipline. All my friends/family have been told that if they wouldn't contact me during my work hours if I was at an office, then they shouldn't be contacting me at home during those hours. If you have kids--then if you had an office job, where would they be during the day? This is where they should be, just the same. If you have a spouse looking after them at home, then they need to know you're off-limits during the day, and you have to be firm on that rule.

And if you really have no self-control, block sites that you'd waste time on. Unless you work for Facebook, Facebook is useless. Facebook isn't your customer communication channel. Block it.

Edited by _dandy_, Feb 25 2013, 6:18pm :

My guess - and this is just a guess - is that the heading of this story is a bit inaccurate. I'm betting the more accurate title would be "official work from home policy eliminated."

That is, they are probably eliminating formal work from home arrangements, where employees work from home full time or every Friday or what have you.

I suspect informal work from home will still be allowed - e.g., when sick, when waiting for the plumber, or for occasional personal reasons. That is how my company does it. There are no "formal" telecommuting programs, but you are allowed to do it informally on occasion - at your manager's discretion. For me this includes partial days from home when I'm taking early morning meetings with European coworkers, sick days, and sometimes working a few days remotely when on personal travel. I've established myself and get my job done, so my boss has no issues with occasional remote work.

That said, a lot of companies prefer you "normally" work in the office, to allow greater collaboration. My personal take is there is something to that - collaboration IS better in person - and video conference and the like is not yet to the point of replacing in person contact. I look forward to the day you can live anywhere and work anywhere (that would sure help Bay Area housing prices) but we aren't quite there yet. Of course much of that depends on your role too - if you don't work on a team, who cares.

I'm sure though Yahoo will have some significant employee turnover with this move. I know of plenty of people who do things like buy a nice larger house an hour and a half out because they know they only have to commute 2 days a week. They RELY on telecommuting. If I were one of those folks, I'd hand in my walking papers. I frown heavily on employers "changing the deal" - reminds me of Darth Vader ("pray I do not alter it further!"). Of course, that's a new CEO's prerogative, I just hope she's ready for a lot of job reqs. The tech industry is not so bad that folks with solid experience can't find positions elsewhere.

Ya, this will save Yahoo... Bring everyone into the office mandatorily. It's not like happy workers are more productive or create better products or anything.

This is the beginning of the end, of the end, of the end, of the end of Yahoo.

Bad move. Seeing how telecommuting is something newer generations value, Yahoo's talent will just find a different job. My employer lets me work from home if conditions are horrible to commute into work (I'm 30 miles away from the office).

Oddly enough, I just read a survey on this very thing and it was the younger generation who preferred to be at the office. The older generation opted for more work at home option. The survey was taken with some 2000+ office workers (who currently have to report to the office daily).

The reason the younger generation opted to be in the office was for more work discipline. Meaning, they knew if they worked from home, they would be less inclined to actually do work.

I'll see if I can track down the study.

Please do because for my MBA, I found a couple of books that stated quite the opposite; that it was harder for traditional HR departments to find quality workers because Gen Y and Gen Millenials were looking for benefits like longer vacation, telecommuting, etc., more of the "what can you do for me attitude?" These workers were making beelines for companies that offered such benefits.

WILL THE TRADITIONAL OFFICE EXIST IN 50 YEARS? SURVEY ASKS
Malvern, PA, January 31, 2013 - Nearly two-thirds (64%) of Americans say they'd choose to work virtually if they could. But despite abundant Internet access and increasingly powerful mobile devices, more than half of Americans (53%) believe the concept of the traditional office will last at least another 50 years. Americans who would choose to work exclusively in an office over working virtually would value the superior discipline, connectedness and information security the traditional office provides.

These are among the top findings in a recent survey of 2,512 American adults conducted online.

Americans were asked to choose between working exclusively virtually (from home, coffee shop, library, etc.) or exclusively in an office. In citing specific advantages of the traditional office, workers were expressing a fear of irrelevance that virtual work can engender.

“Virtual office technology has not yet caught up to employees' fears that they may become irrelevant if they're not perceived as being fully engaged with the traditional office,”. “While mobility is a signature of the new workforce, workers know they need to seamlessly collaborate with colleagues and superiors to demonstrate their ongoing value, especially in the current economic climate. Although the world is making significant advances in videoconferencing and information management, there's no perfect substitute yet for meaningful face time. But innovation is moving at unprecedented speeds in this area, and progress will come.”

The generational paradox
When Americans who chose the office were asked why they preferred it over working virtually:

• 66% said they would be more disciplined and productive there.
• 51% said they would want to socialize with colleagues.
• And 39% said they would feel more secure about accessing, scanning, storing and printing information from an office.

Surprisingly, younger people seem to be the least enthusiastic about working virtually. In fact, 18-to-34-year-olds were the age group most likely to prefer working in an office (43% of them chose the office vs. 31% of those age 35-54 and 36% of those age 55+).

Areas for improvement
Meanwhile, two-thirds (67%) of employed adults feel dissatisfied about something in their current work situation, including the inability to get the information they need in a timely manner (18%); the organization being out of date with the latest technology trends (14%); too much paperwork (14%); and failure of co-workers to use technology tools to their full potential (12%).

“Although this dissatisfaction isn't great news, it's good that so many American workers appear devoted to improving their personal and organizational performance through better processes and technology,”

Methodology
This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive from October 3-5, 2012, among 2,512 adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample, and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

One size doesn't fit all. There are a few professions that, working from home, doesn't affect one's productivity. However, a vast majority of them do require personal interaction to be the most effective.

I used to work for a company that let over half their workforce do their work from home. They were set up with an office phone, network interface and computer monitor.

And out of probably 3,000 people that were allowed to work from home...about 1,000 have voluntarily wanted to come back and work in the office cause they missed the social impact they lost from working from home.

And after witnessing that...I can see that people in my opinion do a much better job if they work in an environment where you have co-workers around you and the social interaction that you don't get from being by yourself working from your house.

Well in your personal example, 2,000 people also chose to stick with working at home.

Working from home or the office isn't always a static choice. Ideally, companies can set their employees for a hybrid schedule where if you want to go to the office some days or stay at home other days is totally fine.

I suppose if that were the case, higher level employees could have their own office and lower level employees can reserve a temporary cubicle whenever they want to work at the office.

At my workplace, we can work at home but we do have to show results. Sometimes I choose to go to the office and take care of business on my laptop. Other days, I don't feel like taking the bus. The best workplaces are ones that can let you do that.

I'm personally more productive when working at home. No people asking me how to do their job. No chitchatting. No meeting. Nobody talking about wow or magic cards (god i hate that). Way faster PC than at job. At home it's just me, my computer and my coffee.

I can do at home in about 5 or 6 hours what i can do in 8 at the office.

But working home 5 days a week can be a disadvantage for the "team spirit". 1 or 2 days everyweek can't hurt though imo.

As someone who worked at home 2 days per week for 2 years before moving 3000 miles and working from home 5 days per week for the past 7 years, I can attest to the fact there are (business) advantages and disadvantages to working from home. The BIGGEST advantage is the fact that you have nothing to do but work when you are at home (well, theoretically, I suppose it depends on the individual). I found when I began working from home that I could accomplish more in just the morning than I could in a normal full day at work. No one interrupting, no conversation traps in the hallway, no extraneous meetings...

But as is suggested by the article, there CAN be communication issues and depending on your role, it can be a problem. I have found that I can easily be "ignored" working from home. I call people on the phone, they simply let it go to voice mail, I email people, they simply don't respond until they feel like they have the time... when I worked IN the office I could corner people at will and get the information I needed within a very short amount of time.

I do not, however, need to communicate as often in my current role as a simple developer compared to when I was a development lead... which required more aggressive management of the team and face to face was always better. It was the trade off for me to work from home full-time, I gave up advancement potential.

For major meetings, the company is very good (as I am not the only remote worker, there are a number of us now - I was the first) at including us via solutions like WebEx. I am required to return to the office once a year for the corporate year end, and it pleases them greatly if I return once quarterly.

Sucks to be them if they can't quit a ****ty employer like that. Flexibility to work from home is one of the great benefits of our current age. Screw wasting your life in traffic and commuting.

Note to Yahoo Employees:

Quit your bitchin, I personally know 3 folks from Grad school who can do your job and would gladly give up unemployment for the opportunity to "drive" to work everyday. I am also sure there are millions of unemployed families who would slap some sense into you.

Thanks

LogicalApex said,
Honestly, if they could do the job why are they unemployed?

Maybe because currently in the whole western world the job vacancies far outnumber the unemployed.
Qualification is not as important anymore as it where.

These folks should be grateful that they still have a job, plenty of unemployment out there. Shower, shave and hit the road

That is a bummer. It has worked effectively at my company. I do 4 days at the office 1 at home. The home days are less distracting. No small talk, no strange interruptions. I am still held accountable for that work, plus cooking lunch and making fresh coffee is quite comforting!

I doubt this will help yahoo. You need to keep your employees happy and motivated.

I agree. Everyone in my team works from home and the office is empty and everyone is disconnected. Boss just decided that everyone must show up at least 3 times a week

How regressive. Modern communications systems allow people to collaborate via-email, cloud sharing and webcam and that should be utilised more going into the future. Having people commute to work is incredibly wasteful, in terms of time and natural resources. Obviously there are challenges posed by allowing people to work from home but businesses should be looking for creative solutions to address that. As long as productivity is maintained people should be allowed to work from home.

Imagine a 45-person office where only 15 people are physically in-office any given day.

Now imagine a 4500-person company where only 1500 people are physically present every day. Imagine the WASTED corporate space, the EMPTY offices, and the associated REDUCED morale due to the lack of apparent team cohesion.

Sure, that's a slight exaggeration, but a reduced company morale is bound to raise suspicions on the effectiveness of an absent workforce.

Nas said,
Imagine a 45-person office where only 15 people are physically in-office any given day.

Now imagine a 4500-person company where only 1500 people are physically present every day. Imagine the WASTED corporate space, the EMPTY offices, and the associated REDUCED morale due to the lack of apparent team cohesion.

Allowing employees to work at home would reduce the amount of office space required. As for morale and productivity, that's why creative solutions are needed to ensure that staff still perform to the best of their ability. But it's just as bad for morale having employees commute for hours each day when they know they could just as easily work at home.

Personally I think the solution is a hybrid model, whereby you allow employees to work from home but you also provide free or discounted on-campus family accommodation for those who want it, with facilities like schools, hospitals, gyms, etc. It's model that's being used in China, where skyscrapers are being built as self-contained social units.

It is beyond pointless to have hundreds of millions of people commuting for hours each days, tens of hours each week when the technology exists to eliminate it. That's especially important when you factor in how wasteful it is in terms of the planet's resources, with huge amounts of fossil fuels being consumed and greenhouse gases and toxins being pumped into the atmosphere. Sure there are issues with working at home but they can be worked around and CEOs like this woman aren't helping.

Imagine a large company that has small, hub offices that seat 20 people and that company lets its employees all work from home except for a weekly team meeting at the hub office. Cohesion, saved money on office space, electricity, heating/cooling, and the employees save on expensive fuel/toll costs!

Or you don't lease or own such a giant facility in the first place, and figure in this day and age that a good percentage of your workforce may opt to choose to work at home or be mobile instead. Reduced morale is ridiculous; work is work. When you need people, contact them. It's not that hard.

Nas said,
Imagine a 45-person office where only 15 people are physically in-office any given day.

Now imagine a 4500-person company where only 1500 people are physically present every day. Imagine the WASTED corporate space, the EMPTY offices, and the associated REDUCED morale due to the lack of apparent team cohesion.

Sure, that's a slight exaggeration, but a reduced company morale is bound to raise suspicions on the effectiveness of an absent workforce.

Heh at my previous job, only 3 ITers, I was the only one that did not work at home.
Funny to see my coworkers do and never really do much on the days they work at home... so little its more a free day then anything else. I requested to work at home a day or so per week to, request was denied. Not good for morale in the office.

Ah well, eventually I just quit and let them drown in the work I was doing for them while they where slacking off

Stuff like no successful backup for 8 months when I started working there (arcserve failed after 5min into the backups, so no retrievable data whatsofreakingever). 3 Ubuntu servers that haven't been updated for 1,5 years. Even a Win2k8 SBS server with updates disabled. (not checking them either, just let it sit there for 10 or so months without updates) And all 4 servers where directly connected onto the internet with nothing more to protect them then iptables on Ubuntu and the Windows Firewall on the SBS.

Taking the selfish perspective, WFA (working from anywhere) is about Amurrka and freedom.

Taking the team perspective, WFA encourages inefficient collaboration due to unfamiliarity with your company culture and team members (especially on-boarding new members), unpredictable availability during typical work hours, and increased susceptibility to inconveniences (like Internet outages).

As someone who's worked from home for many years, I recently got an outside office. There are simply too many distractions at home. The first few weeks, my productivity skyrocketed. I'm not saying everyone needs this, but for a struggling company, it's an easy experiment and they can always allow a case by case basis afterwards where it makes sense. I suspect many are just ****ed they'll lose their unofficial paid day offs or getting up at the crack of noon schedules.

Nothing says we're a green company, concerned about lowering carbon emissions, than a company that forces employees to sit in a cubicle, actually performing LESS work than they could accomplish at home due to distractions, meaningless chit-chat, etc.

That's simply not true, I've seem many cases were home works are less able to be productive. In my opinion, unless your a traveling homeworker (e.g. someone who has to travel most days), then it shouldn't be an option.

Even with electronics, you lose a lot of the banter, humor and social things that help bring teams and people together (e.g. going out for lunch, after work, etc). Meaningless chit-chat you call it, I call stress relief and helps you get through difficult days.

My work from home days are my most productive personally. Though I have a INTJ personality.

I think it'd be different for each person. I love cooking my own lunch, saving fuel among other things. It is truly a larger morale boost than any chit chat could provide.

In my company they have a program for working at home and I was shocked to find out that those who work at home have a poorer attendance record than those who commute.
To work at home requires someone who is self-motivated, and you aren't always going to find many of those types of people.
In fact I recently had to commute 3 times longer than usual due to consolidation, but now finally back to my normal commute. Inconveniences happen at work, just have to decide if you can live with them or not.

Rohdekill said,
Nothing says we're a green company, concerned about lowering carbon emissions, than a company that forces employees to sit in a cubicle, actually performing LESS work than they could accomplish at home due to distractions, meaningless chit-chat, etc.

Some would argue that you are more distracted at home, though.

Sekyal said,

To work at home requires someone who is self-motivated, and you aren't always going to find many of those types of people.

Exactly. One of the major types of people I see working from home are the self-employed, and they can be incredibly motivated as they quite literally have a fire under their ass as to whether they get paid or not, whether they'll have money this year, and so forth.

OK, so I can understand not wanting people to work from home full time, especially if they often need to be engaged in important meetings or other interactions. BUT, there is no reason to bar the practice altogether. If you think people are slacking at home, there are ways to address that, but overall you can expect productivity to go down with this move.

Salutary7 said,
OK, so I can understand not wanting people to work from home full time, especially if they often need to be engaged in important meetings or other interactions. BUT, there is no reason to bar the practice altogether. If you think people are slacking at home, there are ways to address that, but overall you can expect productivity to go down with this move.

It's right there in the summary that they will be allowed to work from home up to two days per week.

Yup 1 or 2 days at home. Boohoo for these people. I know people that commute 2.5 hours a day and work from home 2 days a week.

Sometimes being comfortable in your own home can bring out some of the best ideas and sometimes being at home is a distraction.

With all the current technologies, communication shouldn't be an issue.

Enron said,
Microsoft technologies allow a more productive teleworking experience. Maybe they should invest in them.

+1

I have to agree with her, especially for a company that is doing poorly. You communicate better when you are physically together. I work from home 2 days a week, but for important things, such as meetings and software releases, I work in the office with the rest of my team.

And if someone told you from now on you lose those two days ? I think that's why people are angry. I bet this affects people not even working on teams.

Yeah I have to agree. Home working has plenty of disadvantages if they have the facilities, why not use them?

Even if you're not in a team, similar skilled people working in the same area do pickup things that do cross over. It happens all the time in my dept and were a mix of developers, application support and infrastructure.

Exactly. This isn't health insurance benefits or something else that is actually important. The only real benefit that is worth anything from this is if I had kids, I wouldn't have to put them in day care or something. However, this is Yahoo, and they have a campus, not an office. Daycare is built into their "office" so that shouldn't be an excuse. Remember that we are not talking about minimum wage jobs here. These are well paid IT professionals complaining about something that is a privilege, not a right. They will get over it or go work somewhere else.

ILikeTobacco said,
Exactly. This isn't health insurance benefits or something else that is actually important. The only real benefit that is worth anything from this is if I had kids, I wouldn't have to put them in day care or something. However, this is Yahoo, and they have a campus, not an office. Daycare is built into their "office" so that shouldn't be an excuse. Remember that we are not talking about minimum wage jobs here. These are well paid IT professionals complaining about something that is a privilege, not a right. They will get over it or go work somewhere else.

Don't forget commuting.

webeagle12 said,
I'm sure he would get over it and drive over to work. Ain't worth loosing your job over this.

What if your location is very far from the business one? If you have to drive 100 miles per day you may choose a different job.
It seems to me that this is a trick to fire people without risking negative reactions in the stock market

Fritzly said,

What if your location is very far from the business one? If you have to drive 100 miles per day you may choose a different job.
It seems to me that this is a trick to fire people without risking negative reactions in the stock market

I work for a big IT company. The employment agreement requires you to relocate to the area no greater than 45 minutes away. Solved that problem real quick.

Rohdekill said,
Nothing says we're a green company, concerned about lowering carbon emissions, than a company that forces employees to sit in a cubicle, actually performing LESS work than they could accomplish at home due to distractions, meaningless chit-chat, etc.

So give everyone their own office and don't have cubes. That's what the company I work for did.

There are solutions to all the excuses to work at home and it is more productive, given the right environment, to work close to where your peers are working.

spenser.d said,

There are solutions to all the excuses to work at home and it is more productive, given the right environment, to work close to where your peers are working.

I very much disagree. Granted, I'm not a Yahoo employee, but there are plenty of advantages and disadvantages to both situations (working from home versus working in the office), in general.

I've been in situations where I've been employed at a place where it was impossible to get anything done at work because unnecessary meetings are called, co-workers want to do nothing but fraternize and there are people who constantly need something done for them. Conversely, I've been told to work from home some times at a previous job when working from the office would clearly be beneficial -- when I need someone's help on certain matters or things like that.

What's best for one person doesn't necessarily mean it's best for everyone, and I'm saying that for both working from home and working in an office. And since this impacts every Yahoo employee based on what's been said, it's not a single group of people at the company. I don't know Yahoo's situation, but I can say implementing this requirement wouldn't be helpful where I work.

You can be in the office and still not go to unnecessary meetings. Where I work we're encouraged not to go to meetings if we really don't think we need to be there.

I'm not saying there's a one-size-fits-all solution, and in cases where you're working in a cube farm, I understand hating the distractions (fortunately the company I work for realized that when planning their campus and we all have offices), but I do strongly believe its more beneficial to be where your peers are if possible (like I said, if given the right environment).

While I agree that working at the office is the most beneficial, there are cases where the ability to work from home is highly important. For example, I live in the US but regularly have conference calls with coworkers who are in Asia or Israel, and having to stay at the office until 10 PM at night is not very pleasant.

Moreover, I also take a few college classes, and the ability to be at school, doing work between classes (or during some boring lectures) allows me to get work done that I otherwise would have not been able to do.

Another point is that sometimes I need to stay home, due to a repairman coming to fix the washer, or my car breaks down and needs a tow, or something like that, and the ability to work remotely *really* comes in handy when I physically can't make it to the office.

puma1 said,
And if someone told you from now on you lose those two days ? I think that's why people are angry. I bet this affects people not even working on teams.
It could also be that some people have moved and don't even live anywhere near their office because they thought they didn't need to be close to it. For example, I know a few people working for companies remotely and they ended up moving over seas because of their spouses. They'd be out of a job, and I bet they'd be upset

It is in your agreement to be within 45 minutes? WOW. for me traveling 25 miles can take 45 to 1 hour depending on traffic on holidays is 35 minutes. To move closer the housing jumps to over 500k for a SFH or 400k for a TH and thats in todays market.

ILikeTobacco said,
if I had kids, I wouldn't have to put them in day care or something.

It really blows my mind that some people have that attitude, and then can't figure out why they can't be as productive working from home when they do that. Unless you operate a daycare centre, you're missing the point.

Umm yes day care is great for kids. It lets them learn social skills. If it is in a campus environment you can visit them. So its even better for you. Working from home with kids you have to take care of them..that is ANTI-productive.