Yahoo bans working from home and embraces creationism

FrankNews wires have been buzzing for the the past several hours with the news that Yahoo is banning working from home. In a much-quoted memo, Yahoo HR said the following:

To become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side. That is why it is critical that we are all present in our offices. Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings. Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home. We need to be one Yahoo!, and that starts with physically being together.

The Washington Post points out, “There is painful irony in a Web company that touts its mobile strategy at the same time that its HR chief calls it critical for all employees to be ‘physically together.'”

Yahoo followed this message up with one stating that the company is adopting creationism as its official belief, instituting timecards, and requiring every employee to wear a blue shirt with their name embroidered on the left breast pocket.

OK, I made that part up, but what the what?

Hello, commuting to work

What does that mean for remote workers for whom lifestyle is a key part of their job choices? It means they’re expected to report to the mother ship by June 1, 2013 with a smile on their face, some sort of pet calendar, and a personalized coffee mug. OK, I made that part up, too, but what year is this, anyway?

It seems universally accepted that the future of work (and the now in Silicon Valley) is a distributed workforce with flexibility. Ironic that Marissa Mayer was pregnant when she took the job. Employee pregnancy might be the next bit of flexibility to get axed.

Not missing an opportunity, Automattic, the company that gives us WordPress (and hosts this blog), said:

For anyone who enjoys working from wherever they like in the world, and is interested in WordPress, Automattic is 100% committed to being distributed. 130 of our 150 people are outside of San Francisco.

Written while working from home with my newborn baby

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Categories: Future of work

Author:Jeanne Roué-Taylor

I'm fascinated by disruptive technology and its impact on our world. I manage sales operations for an excellent startup with a unique team of highly experienced data scientists.

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10 Comments on “Yahoo bans working from home and embraces creationism”

  1. Jim Smith
    February 26, 2013 at 6:55 am #

    On the other hand, this could be a way of doing layoffs via resignation. Much more media friendly that way.

  2. February 26, 2013 at 7:11 am #

    I’m not sure how I feel about this. Currently, I work for a small startup and we all work from home. We can be pretty productive not only because we have a small team and a good system in place for sharing, collaborating, and planning – but mostly because the members of our team are dedicated to getting the job done. So it works for us.

    But before working at my present job, I was employed by a small doctor’s office. I was able to observe how at the beginning, when the practice was small and the team was cohesive, there was no need for overarching policies about taking leave, being tardy, or taking lunch breaks. It was a family-style practice, and we all just understood what was needed and what was allowed.

    But, as the practice grew, and more employees were added to the mix; the office staff was no longer on the same page. Slowly, the feeling of cohesion slipped away. And when the office began feeling more and more disparate, we had to come up with overarching policies to try to bring them together. The employee perks became less prevalent, and were replaced by stricter rules and a more rigid infrastructure.

    So to me, this new policy of Yahoo! is more of a reflection of a culture problem than a productivity problem, and is probably what they need to get back on track. If everybody is on the same page, then employees can work from wherever they want because they all “get it.” But, if all of your employees are marching to the beat of a different drummer, then you need a way to rein them in.

    Yahoo! feels that the best way to accomplish that is to bring everybody under the same roof, which I kind of actually agree with.

  3. February 26, 2013 at 7:26 am #

    Very insightful @jondevore; I agree with you but you have to admit the irony in the situation… or several ironies. And, while working from home can be a benefit, it has to be closely monitored as a company grows to ensure you are actually getting a full day’s work from each employee who is offsite.

    My preference is for a hybrid model, with some required time in the office. Sometimes there is no replacement for being in the same physical space… and sometimes no replacement for the control over one’s environment too.

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