Yahoo to change work policy, end telecommuting

February 25, 2013 5:47:55 PM PST
Silicon Valley freeways are about to get more crowded this summer when a tech giant stops allowing employees to work at home. Yahoo says it has a good reason to end telecommuting.

Officially, Yahoo says it will not comment on internal matters. But we understand CEO Marissa Mayer thinks discussions at the water cooler or in the hallway are valuable. Other Silicon Valley tech workers think this decision will hurt productivity at Yahoo.

Two days a week, Mitul Patel's commute is a flight of stairs at home, instead of driving from San Jose to Palo Alto. He's the IT manager at Endicia, a software company that makes postage and shipping label systems for online sellers.

"This is a great benefit to have, Patel said. "And I think people will start to think two times before, you know, if the benefit is taken away."

Sunnyvale-based Yahoo is planning to do exactly that. In a leaked memo from its human resources manager, Yahoo will require employees who telecommute, or work remotely from home, to work at the office starting in June. The idea is to encourage brainstorming.

Jaime Neitzelt began working at home two days a week a couple of years ago, "Wednesday and Friday working at home it kinda just changed my whole personality and outlook on work, and I work longer," she said. "I start at 6:30 in the morning instead of getting here close to eight, and I normally don't take lunch breaks at home because I can eat at home and just keep going."

Endicia co-founder Amine Khechfe can't imagine taking the benefit away from his 168 employees. It's almost a birthright in Silicon Valley.

"They're saving maybe two to three hours of commute time," Khechfe said. "And they can use that energy at work, and I think they put in more hours, and it's less interruption and it's quiet time, and it works out pretty nicely."

However, psychologist Kit Yarrow understands that some companies may want to develop stronger teamwork that comes from interaction at the office. We talked to her via Skype.

"There's so much room for miscommunication, a lot of opportunity for people to just not care about how well they're doing in the office or what they're contributing to the team," Yarrow said. "I think all these things are heightened when people don't interact with each other face-to-face in the office."

Making people show up at the office every day does carry some risk. Yahoo employees may quit. And there's no shortage of other companies that say they'll gladly snap them up and allow them to work at home.


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