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Yahoo’s Ban On Working From Home

Yahoo! CEO and new mom Marissa Mayer – says no more working from home for her staff. But wait, wasn’t that the future?

This image released by NBC shows Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer appearing on NBC News' "Today" show, Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013. (AP)

This image released by NBC shows Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer appearing on NBC News’ “Today” show, Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013. (AP)

Surprise memo to the 11,000 employees of internet icon Yahoo! last week. And here’s what it said: no more working from home. None. Nada. Zip. Nevermind the magical, digital age of working from anywhere. Get your very physical self back into the office.

For Silicon Valley’s cutting edge digerati, this was a shocking command. All the more so since it came from the country’s most famous working mother, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, who has a young baby and a special nursery built right next to her Yahoo office.

This hour, On Point: Yahoo! says back in the office, and a digital generation wonders what’s going on.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Kara Swisher, co-founder, co-executive-editor, and columnist at the “All Things D” tech website. She broke the story of Yahoo’s ban on working from home. You can read her story with the leaked Yahoo! memo here. (@karaswisher)

Raymond Fisman, professor of social enterprise and director of the Social Enterprise Program at Columbia Business School. Co-author of “The Org: The Underlying Logic of the Office.” His CNN piece on the Yahoo! decision is: “CEO Right: Yahoo Workers Must Show Up.”

Sylvia Ann Hewlett, President and CEO of the Center For Talent Innovation. (@sahewlett)

From Tom’s Reading List

Los Angeles Times “Corporate America’s most famous working mother has banned her employees from working at home. Now the backlash is threatening to overshadow the progress she has made turning around Yahoo Inc. Marissa Mayer, one of only a handful of women leading Fortune 500 companies, has become the talk of Twitter and Silicon Valley for her controversial move to end telecommuting at the struggling Internet pioneer.”

CNN “It struck a deep chord, contrary as it was to the techno-utopian impulse that has helped define Silicon Valley: the idea that someday soon we’ll all be working in coffee shops or kitchen tables, with broadband connections replacing in-person interactions. Mayer may have been extreme in her demands for face time at the office, but it’s the right call for a leader who is working to turn around one of the Internet’s laggards.”

The Atlantic “But these reasonable arguments for building a dense and collaborative workplace culture should be weighed against the preponderance of statistical evidence, which suggests that (1) sometimes people just like to work from home for a change, and (2) they’re really good at it. In reaching to build a new culture in a new Yahoo, Mayer might be alienating the most brilliantly independent-minded employees just because they value flexibility and Yahoo doesn’t.”

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