Technology has reconstructed the meaning of the “workplace” from a cubicle space to an employee’s bed and computer. Communication innovations have brought about the increased flexibility of office spaces and has decreased the number of people having to come into the office to work.
Yahoo’s new CEO Marissa Mayer doesn’t seem to agree with this trend, however. On Tuesday, Feb. 26, Yahoo sent out an employee memo revealing that the company is abolishing its work-at-home policy saying that “face-to-face interaction among employees fosters a more collaborative culture.” This policy change has caused much controversy since many expected the new mother, fresh off of maternity leave in 2012, to be extremely receptive to work flexibility.
This is not just Yahoo’s new policy, however, late last year Bank of America did the same. Although Yahoo told Mashable that it did not make the change in policy based on any “industry-wide” trend. This policy change at Yahoo — which is the same policy as Google as well — could be significant of a change in the workplace that may require the Millennial generation to change their mindsets.
The New York Times reported that, “Employees, especially younger ones, expect to be able to work remotely, analysts say. And over all the trend is toward greater workplace flexibility.”
But there is a trade-off to working at home. Studies show that while working at home can make workers more productive, they are less likely to be innovative.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that telecommuting is not just utilized by working parents and it’s not an issue of gender. Just as many men are taking advantage of work-at-home policies as well. The bureau also reported that 24 percent of Americans said they worked from home at least a few hours a week.
Yahoo’s changing office expectations and is gambling on the innovation of employees rather than trying to retain their workers with more flexibility. This is an advantage to the young, single, mortgage-free Millennials who already have flexibility of lifestyles versus the working parent.
Mashable reported that some Yahoo employees believe that “work ethic at Yahoo has deteriorated over time, and the new policy allows management to better monitor and inspire people at the office.” Also the employees Mashable spoke with sees the policy change as “beneficial” should “less productive staff chose to leave because of the policy.”
Yahoo’s move shows that Mayer values innovation rather than work-retention, especially since Yahoo is competing with powerhouses like Google who already requires its employees to come into work every day. And since many Millenials have an inherent flexibility in this stage in life, Yahoo may be a good company to apply for.