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Yahoo's New Telecommuting Rule: Good or Bad?

By Tanya Roth, Esq. on February 27, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Last week, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer dropped a bombshell on Yahoo's 14,500 employees -- the work-from-home policy would be done by June.

This is a huge shift for the company, which to date, left telecommuting policy in the hands of its individual managers. But ever since Mayer took to the helm last year, she's been taking company matters into her own hands and revamping the one-time Internet leader.

Marissa Mayer's bold new move has raised some interesting questions. First, how should companies large and small handle their telecommuting policies?

Second, does telecommuting really affect productivity in a negative way?

According to Yahoo’s Head of Human Resources, the decision to cut telecommuting came from the idea that better decisions are made when employees are physically in the same place.

It’s the whole idea of the water-cooler discussions. Good ideas don’t necessarily come from the meetings alone, but from the constant interaction and engagement of employees.

Yahoo’s current ad-hoc telecommuting policy isn’t a huge legal threat to the company. But without a proper policy, there can be a lot more finger-pointing by employees who may have been denied the chance to telecommute.

Should a every company have a work-from-home policy? Or should companies allow workers to work from home at all?

The problem with the latter is that it can get in the way of gender equality. Call it a stretch, but people will raise the issue, claiming that a particular work environment or culture isn’t favorable to the working mom or for that matter, the working dad.

This is ironic, since Mayer herself recently became a mother.

But Mayer isn’t talking about gender equality. She’s first addressing the idea that there is no policy in place. And for that, she’s laying down the law. Who knows? Maybe come June, she’ll say that anyone who wants to telecommute must go through certain policies and procedures. And maybe those policies will allow some leniency towards working moms and dads. But for now, it looks like Mayer just had to take control of the situation.

Here’s to hoping that Mayer’s new policy will improve productivity at Yahoo. Consider what a new and more concrete telecommuting policy can do for your business.

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