The debate over WFH

Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo

Marissa Mayer’s recent announcement ending Yahoo’s work-from-home policy has riled everyone up on both sides of the argument. How could such a large company that employs so many people take such a hard line stance on an issue that is bound to breed exception after exception?

Yesterday the New York Times released more details about the rationale behind the decision, which is an effort to change the corporate culture more than anything else. Whole floors of cubicles in the corporate headquarters are empty, some work-from-home employees are double dipping – working on their own startups while collecting a paycheck – and company morale is really low. Mayer’s goal for Yahoo is to create a new culture of innovation and collaboration.

But what does morale have to do with a percentage of the office working at home?

From an outsider’s point of view, I can see resentment being bred from workplace flexibility being applied to some and not others. Or from those in the office that are left doing the “quick favors” for those that aren’t … looking for files, lost notes, etc.

And that doesn’t even broach the collaboration issue.

At Mobium, we pride ourselves on being collaborative. There are times, because of travel or illness, where we have to collaborate remotely. It’s hard, but we make it work because it’s an exception to the rule. I don’t think we would be as creative or effective if we were scattered around the Chicagoland area. In fact, some of our best ideas come out of conversations in the kitchen or at the copy machine. At the end of the day, face-to-face collaboration is still the best way to communicate. No amount of technology will change that.

It will be interesting to see how this affects Yahoo after the changes take place. If the corporate culture changes to be more collaborative and morale is increased because of a stronger sense of team. The free cafeteria Mayer put in the campus HQ can’t hurt that effort either.

Photo credit: By Mrgadget3000 at de.wikipedia [CC-BY-SA-2.0-de (], from Wikimedia Commons

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