One of the world's largest technology companies has taken the extraordinary step of banning telecommuting, and compelling its employees who work offsite to move back into offices so they can interact more with their coworkers.
According to an internal Yahoo memo to staff obtained and first published by the Wall Street Journal's AllThingsD technology blog, the search giant plans to phase out its telecommuting programs by June, and move all employees who work from home or another offsite locale into a Yahoo office by then.
"To become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side. That is why it is critical that we are all present in our offices," human resources executive Jackie Reses wrote in the memo, which was also signed by the company's CEO Marissa Mayer.
"Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings. Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home. We need to be one Yahoo!, and that starts with physically being together," the memo reads.
It's a bold, but curious, move for a company with the sway of Yahoo, because technology companies often compete for highly sought-after talent with perks and benefits, in cases where salaries are comparable.
Work at home professional and author Leslie Truex says the move is an odd one, but she adds that companies with the size and scope of Yahoo are often the last to catch on and embrace the broader trend of telecommuting and flexible work conditions.
"Whenever companies offer work from home options it's often because it saves them money, they're not being altruistic," Truex says. "I don't know what Yahoo is seeing in their employees to do this but as long as you're doing your work, it's usually a good thing."
Truex says Yahoo's move is reminiscent of the one that telecom firm AT&T did about five years ago. The phone company was an early pioneer of telecommuting, before ordering all of its employees back into offices in 2007.
AT&T never offered a full explanation of the move at the time, and nor is Yahoo doing so now — Yahoo is declining comment on the report, saying it never comments on internal issues.
"This sounds like Yahoo is saying their work-at-home workers aren't being productive enough," Truex says. "That's not usually the case."