Yahoo’s Ban on Working From Home
“To become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side,” the memo said. “That is why it is critical that we are all present in our offices.” – Marissa Mayer, CEO Yahoo
A week before Telework Week, a week to encourage agencies, organizations, and individuals to pledge to telework anytime from March 4-8, 2013, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer made a decision to end remote work at Yahoo!, not even for one day a week.
The arguments that are being put forward to support this decision are convincing: we human beings are wired for connection and we work best when we feel connected to those around us; water cooler conversations foster synergies that emails don’t; distance can damage trust and so forth. But as a young female who works in the technology sector, I cannot understand the decision to impose a total ban on remote working. I fully support the option to work from home and this flexibility has unprecedented benefits for both my career and my overall health.
On average, I work from home two to three times a week, sometimes more and sometimes less depending on how many face to face meetings I have, how many TelePresence meetings I have, what time my working day starts and end and the work I am required to do that week. My team are primarily based in the US and I do not need to come into the office to do my job – one of the great benefits of working for a technology company. In fact, if I have a lot of work to do that day/week I often avoid coming into the office because I know I have the self-discipline to put my head down and “crack on” with work and will have fewer distractions at home.
Working from home and avoiding the dreadful traffic on London motorways also allows me to invest time into myself and my general health – I find that when I do work from home I find it much easier to schedule time to go to the gym or do yoga. Over the years I have noticed that this flexibility has decreased the number of sick days I take and has improved my overall employee satisfaction rate. And as I look forward to the day when I will start a family, I definitely want to continue to work for a company that offers this benefit.
The problem I have with Marissa Meyer’s decision is that it is a total ban – working from home is not allowed, period. I see the benefits of coming into the office and of working from home and I think that employees should have the option to do both, depending on their schedules, personal situations and so forth.
A good friend of mine is thinking of making a career change and I have been trying to encourage her to consider a career in technology. Working from home is one of the benefits I talk about to sell her a career in technology. The technology industry faces a huge issue with regards to the low number of women applying for jobs in the technology sector especially in engineering roles. If other technology companies follow Yahoo’s example of banning telework, are we going to have a bigger issue on our hands?