The initial reaction to Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer's decision to ban telecommuting was overwhelmingly against, with workplace experts, working professionals, and parents speaking out in favor of working from home. As the story continues to unfold, some "experts" have come out in favor of the ban, and questions have been raised as to whether other companies will follow Yahoo's lead.
Here are four reasons why any company hoping to have a long and prosperous future will be just plain dumb to agree with Marissa Mayer and Yahoo's decision to end telecommuting with a blanket workforce ban.
* The youngest generation in the workforce embraces and understands remote working technology. The future of our workforce is already mobile and wants their jobs to be that way, too. They're used to writing term papers on laptops from the library, their dorm room, the cafeteria, or a local coffee shop. They're used to communicating with friends, parents, professors, and even internship managers remotely. As they rise into management, telecommuting will be less of a question and more of a fact. If a company wants to attract and retain young, promising talent to keep their companies forward-thinking and moving, banning telecommuting is NOT the way to do it.
* Telecommuting is not the problem. Management is. Collaboration and productivity can be blocked by mismanagement, lack of communication, and unclear goals – whether you're on-site at a company or working remotely. Great companies integrate telecommuting options (such as Xerox and the Working Mother 100 companies) into their work culture and have discovered the cost benefits, boost in morale and higher productivity from employees. Poor companies miss these opportunities and wind up losing their best talent to companies who embrace telecommuting and flexible work options.
* The job market isn't always going to favor employers. As the economy recovers and unemployment numbers drop, employers will not be “ruling the roost” as they are now. As the unemployment rate lowers, they’ll have to compete for the best candidates, and in doing so, they’ll have to acknowledge and incorporate some of the most popular professional demands, like workplace flexibility. Telecommuting and work-life balance have been shown overwhelmingly in studies to be what people want. 87% of full-time professionals look for flexibility in a new job, and 39% of full-time professionals would give up 10% of their salary in exchange for a jobs with work flexibility, according to a Working Mother infographic on how work flexibility benefits both employers and employees.
* There may be professionals who place their jobs above all else, but the mass majority of people don't, or can't. Especially mothers. The message Yahoo is delivering to its workforce is this: Don’t think about continuing to work for this company unless your job is your #1 priority in life. And for all of us mothers out there, that is pretty unrealistic. Not only that, for companies who don’t incorporate some kind of flexible work options, it leaves the working parents on their team (among others) forced into situations of trying to do a nearly impossible juggling act that leaves us more stressed, less healthy, more unhappy, and ultimately less productive and less loyal to the company.
History shows us that companies who resist forward-movement and change, in this case workplace flexibility and mobility, don’t tend to be successful in the long-run. How long can Yahoo keep its head in the sand on telecommuting if it really expects to be a leading technology company?