Yahoo Bans Telecommuting, Outrage Ensues

Marissa Mayer's new policy inspires a flurry of reactions
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 26, 2013 7:35 AM CST
Yahoo Bans Telecommuting, Outrage Ensues
This image released by NBC shows Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer appearing on NBC News' "Today" show, Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013 in New York.   (AP Photo/NBC Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire)

Marissa Mayer is making huge waves at Yahoo by banning telecommuting at the company—employees aren't happy, and most pundits are on their side. A sample of the reactions to Mayer's new policy, which AllThingsD revealed last week:

  • "Mayer is trying to put together a 21st century technology company using 19th century workplace mentalities," writes Steve Woods on Technorati. "Expect a wave of attrition at Yahoo!, as some of their most important employees are lured by forward-looking companies using cutting-edge technologies to build a close tribe across great distances."
  • But Mayer used to work at one of those companies—Google—and sources tell AllThingsD she was unhappy with Yahoo employees who were slow to arrive at work and quick to leave at 5pm. She tried to lure them back into the office with perks, meetings, and stricter performance reviews before resorting to this new policy. (An informal survey by AllThingsD finds that most other tech companies support telecommuting.)

  • As does Virgin. Airline chief Richard Branson weighs in on the controversy, calling the move "perplexing" and "a backwards step." He writes, "Working life isn't 9-5 any more. The world is connected. Companies that do not embrace this are missing a trick."
  • But, though studies have found work-at-home employees to be more productive, they are also less innovative, one expert explains to the New York Times. "If you want innovation, then you need interaction. If you want productivity, then you want people working from home." And other big companies, including Bank of America and Zappos, have recently made their telecommuting policies stricter.
  • And at ZDNet, Andrew Nusca supports the move. After all, it "befits a chief executive hired with explicit orders to disrupt a company's stagnating culture," he writes. "Like many mature Internet companies, [Yahoo] has seen malaise set in as it maintains existing businesses, rather than pursuing new ones." This is a way to make the company, once again, "a place where the brightest minds on the Internet [convene] to create and innovate."
(More Marissa Mayer stories.)

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