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The New Yahoo Prohibits Telecommuting, Irks Communications Team

Yahoo CEO Marissa MayerLast week Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer unveiled the property’s new look and features. But one aspect of her rebranding that escaped our attention was an absolute refusal to allow employees to work remotely. As an internal memo put it, “We need to be one Yahoo!, and that starts with physically being together.” In other words, come to the office every day or you’re fired.

Some of Mayer’s team members didn’t appreciate this change; a group of “very irked Yahoo employees” leaked the note to The Wall Street Journal on Friday, turning the whole thing into something of a PR headache. As Edelman PR notes in this tweet, lots of people are talking about “working from home” right now–to Yahoo’s detriment.

The reasoning behind the decision makes sense: The company found that many of its telecommuters, in departments from marketing to engineering, weren’t actually getting much work done. Yahoo didn’t even seem to realize that some of them were still getting paid.

We get it–that’s bad news. But we wonder whether “no working from home, ever” is really the best solution.

We find Mayer’s absolutism strange coming from a veteran of Silicon Valley, where many see the classic 9-5 workday as an antiquated relic. And we can see why lots of communications people are upset–last we heard, the “job” is really a 24/7 lifestyle in which telecommuting and teleconferencing play an important role.

Of course a company can’t tolerate “employees” who’ve found a way to get paid for sitting at home and being unproductive. But more and more people are working from home at least sometimes–and that’s especially true in the tech and content creation industries.

Was Mayer right to forbid telecommuting altogether? Should she stay firm or back down in the interest of her company’s image?

UPDATE: We didn’t even really think about how this change would affect working mothers. The fact that new mom Mayer recently had a nursery installed next to her office probably doesn’t sit too well with the career moms on her staff.

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