Yahoo's ban on telecommuting sparks a firestorm


Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s decision to order telecommuting employees back to the office has sparked a passionate debate over the growing practice of working from home.

“We need to be working side-by-side,” wrote Yahoo human resources chief Jackie Reses, in a company memo that was leaked Friday, citing the importance of “communication and collaboration” as well as the “decisions and insights” that can arise from impromptu meetings. “Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home,” Reses added, before announcing that Yahoo will ask all employees to work in company offices, starting in June.

Mayer, a former Google executive, has previously announced steps to improve work conditions at Yahoo by upgrading employees’ phones and offering free meals, among other amenities. But the Reses memo sparked an uproar on tech blogs and social networking sites, where some critics said it seemed ham-handed and oppressive.

Advocates for working parents criticized Mayer for abandoning what they view as a modern, enlightened approach to accommodating workers’ needs. Since it was announced last week, the move has even drawn fire from Sir Richard Branson, the British travel and media mogul, who said Monday on Twitter that he was “perplexed” by the move and wrote in his blog that it “seems a backward step in an age when remote working is easier and more effective than ever.”

But others say the order’s not entirely surprising, given Mayer’s stated goal of shaking things up at a once-vaunted Internet company that had gained a reputation in recent years for being sluggish and behind the curve of innovation and competition.


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