A leaked memo from the head of HR at internet giant Yahoo! has drawn gasps of surprise and a deluge of criticism from entrepreneurs and business leaders from all over the globe.
The cause of all the fuss and furore? Yahoo! is banning all staff from remote or teleworking from June this year.
The memo states: “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. Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home. We need to be one Yahoo! and that starts with physically being together.”
Disgruntled employees sent the memo to technology news website AllThingsD.com and soon academics, trade union policy advisors and even Richard Branson were labelling it bizarre, outdated and backwards.
The news was more shocking because it comes from a high- tech company and such organisations have been seen as being at the forefront of changing the way we work and using technology to communicate with the office.
If workers are prevented from reaping the benefits of teleworking (such as no daily commute and a better work/life balance) then all we are left with is a collection of smartphones, laptops and tablets which merely extend our working day and impinge on home life. We are all now technically available 24/7 and it is very common for people to be based in the office but take work home to complete in the evenings and at weekends.
A Confederation of British Industry (CBI) survey in 2011 reported that the number of people working from home in the UK is on the increase with nearly 60% of employers offering teleworking.
Adrian Marlowe, MD at Lawspeed said:
“It is a surprising decision but on the other hand, Google’s CFO has also indicated that he wants as few people as possible working from home too so perhaps it’s a sign of a wider change. Productivity is a key factor for employers and Yahoo! and Google have clearly taken a close look at the situation in their businesses.
“Working from home could come about as result of a flexible working request from an employee or be part of a company-wide policy, it is not something that an employer is obliged to offer.”
Lawspeed offer advice and support on employment law and can help businesses to draft policies, contracts and staff handbooks, dealing with teleworking and other matters affecting the modern workforce.