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Will Yahoo!'s Work-from-Home Ban Backfire?

What is Mayer thinking?
What is Mayer thinking?Photograph by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Not long after her arrival at Yahoo!, new Chief Executive Officer Marissa Mayer started handing out carrots to her new employees, including new smartphones, free food, and other Google-style amenities. Now she has brought out the stick—namely a directive that employees are no longer allowed to work from home, something that is expected to affect as many as 500 Yahoo staffers. Mayer’s move has supporters, who argue that she is trying to repair Yahoo’s culture. In doing so, however, she could be sending the wrong message for a company that is trying to spur innovation after a decade of spinning its wheels.

In the internal memo published by All Things Digital, Yahoo’s head of human resources said the company wants to improve its working environment; in order to do so, Yahoo needs people to work in the same physical location. According to the memo, “speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home,” so working at home will longer be supported; in other words, find a way to work at the office—or quit: “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. Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings… We need to be one Yahoo!, and that starts with physically being together.”