Yahoo!’s Big Gamble: The Workplace Flexibility Conundrum

With more and more companies offering workplace flexibility, it came as a shock that Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer issued a memo late last month explaining that the company would require all of its employees to come into the office instead of working from home. This decision has received plenty of heat, with some calling the policy change “short-sighted”, “going backwards” and an “epic fail”. After all, 24% of Americans reported working from home at least a few hours per week and 63% of employers reported they allowed employees to work remotely.

Even though allowing workers to telecommute may save the company money in a sluggish economy, some firms are noticing definite drawbacks to having an emptier office. Studies have indicated that employees who work from home are more productive but less innovative – apparently, employees interacting with one another can lead to more new ideas and faster decision making. For a struggling company like Yahoo, having employees in the same place could mean the difference between growth and stagnation.

Job applicants shouldn’t always assume their future workplace will embrace workplace flexibility. It may be an attractive option to work from your couch all day, but it may not be the best decision for your career. Often, employees who primarily work from home miss out on crucial decisions and also may be passed over for promotions or special opportunities partly because they are much less visible in the office environment.

Recent college graduates and young professionals may be searching for jobs with greater opportunities to work from home, but Mayer may have started a trend with more companies focusing on keeping people in the workplace. Workplace flexibility must be kept in balance with other job aspects – how important is it to you to work at home compared to the possibility of job security or career growth? Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is important, but no job will be perfect and in this economy, sacrificing working from home just might be necessary.

 

– Emma Ambler, Marketing & Communications Intern