Yahoo!’s Work-From-Home Debate

Recently, Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer announced that the company would be discontinuing work-from-home options for its employees. Mayer cited creating a more cohesive company culture as some of the reasons behind the recent corporate decision. Others might see it differently. Regardless, the decision has sparked quite a debate on the work-from-home front. Does working from home change company culture, and even if it does, does a company have the right to take the option away from employees?

The first part to tackle is whether work-from-home changes company culture. The answer is patently yes. Not having all of your employees in the office changes how a company operates and how its employees interact. Some will argue this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I would disagree–apparently so too would Yahoo!. You hire employees for a reason, and how they mesh with the company is equally as important as their skills. In this economy there are a number of skilled job seekers looking, so it really is that personality that sets many apart. Yahoo! knows this. If you’re a company looking to innovate and change–and Yahoo! does have major issues it needs to address–having a water cooler atmosphere to bounce ideas is vital to success. I have known people who work from home to avoid a two block commute. Is that everyone? No. But neither is the overly-productive home worker. Work-from-home options change the identity and company culture of an office.

Second of all, does Yahoo!, or any company for that matter, have the right to take away this privilege from employees? My personal feeling, and you may have guessed it from the previous word choice, is absolutely. The ability to work-from-home is, I believe, a privilege. It’s not a right. Universally workers have the right to minimum wage, a harassment-free workplace, and fair treatment. They do not have the right to work wherever they choose–unless specifically agreed upon by both parties in a contract. If the work-from-home model isn’t working for your company, as it wasn’t for Yahoo!, go ahead and pull the plug.

Do I agree with the the way Yahoo! decided to terminate its work-from-home option? No. I have qualms with the memo itself, but I do appreciate that they addressed the impacted employees first. However, the work-from-home option is a right, and one that very much impacts your company culture. For those who bitterly bemoan the loss, I understand. But I also understand Yahoo! and Marissa Mayer’s goal, and I firmly believe they have the right to do so.

What do you think about Marissa Mayer’s decision to pull in the ranks? Tell us below.

IMAGE: Courtesy of Flickr by gaku.

 

  • Rory Trotter

    I agree with you, Jen.

    Most states are employment at will, and as such working from home is absolutely a privilege.

    With that said, in cases where the manager negotiated a work from home arrangement with their employee it is perhaps fair to say that the person got a raw deal when Mayer’s edict came down from up high.

    She gave them plenty of time to find another opportunity, however, so they shouldn’t fret too much.

    Thanks for sharing, and keep writing.

    Best,

    Rory