One of the big stories this week was Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s memo  that would end “working from home” for all Yahoos by June. Various pundits and bloggers jumped at the chance to debate the merits and failings of working at home and I wanted to hear your opinion.
Personally, I think that working from home cannot be a standard way of doing business for any business because being distributed makes it much harder for teams to function. As archaic as it seems, being in an office together does build team chemistry even if it’s complaining about something as silly as the temperature of the office. Shared experiences does promote bonding, even on a superficial level. It also can result in serendipity, ideas that come about by happy accidents, just because people are working together.
Then there’s the issue of friction. Any little roadblock, or friction, can make a process go slower. If I’m working with someone on a project and they are sitting next to me, I just turn around and see if it’s a convenient time to talk. If they’re away, I email. Then I wait, work on something else, until they respond. They can’t possibly respond as quickly as someone sitting beside me or in the office down the hall.
That said, these are all the costs of doing business and I suspect some of the people who work remotely are still with Yahoo because they can work remotely. Yahoo has been languishing for years and this move just looks like a shot in the dark, since there are plenty of companies that allow working from home and they seem to be doing just fine (IBM is doing well after a period of difficulty not because they decreed all employees must work in their offices but because they pivoted their business strategy).
If I were a Yahoo employee, valued working from home, and was given the order to come into an office or quit… I’d go into the office but I’d also start looking for another job. What would you do?