One of the biggest problems that Yahoo (YHOO) has had in recent years is an inability to attract top tier talent, and its recent move to abolish its work-from-home policy is probably not going to help.
In today's wired world, employees expect to be able to work remotely, but employers have struggled with the question of whether or not to allow employees to work from home. Most studies agree that people who work from home are more productive than they would be if they were working in the office, but questions remain about whether or not they are more innovative at home.
Yahoo wants, and needs, to become more innovative, so it has decided that beginning in June, all of its employees will have to start working in the office. It is a big gamble for a company that is already struggling to attract top talent.
Workplace flexibility has been on the rise in recent years. Last year 24% of Americans reported working from home at least some hours each week. 63% of employers reported that they granted their workers the ability to work from home, a 35% jump from 2005.
While there are some advantages to working in an office, the timing seems to be off for Yahoo to make this move. There are plenty of other technology companies that allow employees to work from home, and chances are, a lot of current Yahoo employees will start to look around for new jobs that allow them to keep their current work conditions.
The ability to work from home helps women who care for young children, and employees who take care of aging parents. Many people believed that Marissa Mayer, who assumed the role of CEO while pregnant, would make Yahoo's workplace more hospitable for working parents, but her decision should not come as too big of a surprise.
Mayer comes from Google (GOOG) where a strong emphasis is put on keeping employees on its campus as much as possible. Google does allow employees to work from home on a case-by-case situation, but it has gone out of its way to create a campus that encourages workers to spend a great deal of time there.
I will not argue against the advantages of people being around their co-workers. Interaction does lead to ideas, but in today's highly wired world employees are able to be in constant contact with other employees. I can easily understand why companies would decide to not allow employees to work from home, but it is a much different situation when companies who currently allow remote working to take it away.
Yahoo is definitely going to lose some talented employees, and this move is going to make it even harder than it already has been for the company to attract the best possible talent in the future.
Michael Fowlkes is a financial writer who has been with the Fresh Brewed Media family since 2004. Over the course of his tenure with Fresh Brewed Media, he has worn many hats, including portfolio manager, options analyst, and writer. Michael received his undergraduate degree from Virginia Tech in Accounting and got his start in finance working as a stock trader for six years at Chase Investment Counsel in Charlottesville, Va. His articles typically cover big-picture events and forecasting what impact they will have on the stock market. In addition to writing for Fresh Brewed Media, Michael also wrote for AOL's BloggingStocks for three years, focusing most of his attention on the energy and technology sectors. Follow him on Twitter at @MFatMICenter.