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Yahoo does not work from home!

Updated on February 28, 2013

Yahoo! Work Vs Life?

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From Scientific Management to Strategic Management

The workplace has evolved from the days of Fredrick W Taylor and Henry Ford, from the era of Scientific Management and Hawthorne Studies to Strategic Human Resource Management. It is tough to believe today that there was a time when people were viewed as machines that were meant to be productive all the time, with no room for any slack whatsoever.

If you play an active part in the workforce today, you should be glad that you are in the modern times when you are expected to enjoy your work, have fun at office, and relish your career than just a job. Is that not what contemporary workplace is all about? When machines are on the verge of being blessed with artificial intelligence, it is only natural that people are managed with a human touch.

Yahoo! bans Telecommuting - Should you work from home?

Evolution of the workplace followed its natural course, leading the way to telecommuting. Today, a significant portion of employees make ends meet by investing their energy and dedication to their work right from their home. Internet and advances in telecommunication have meant that it is no longer difficult to coordinate with colleagues, communicate with clients, and contribute to productivity.

And in this context arrives the news that Marissa Mayer has banned Yahoo's policy of letting employees work from home. The argument, it is said, is that meeting people face-to-face contributes to improved cohesion and hence, to better productivity. Further, working from home means that employees could be productive alright, but may not be innovative - innovation stems from working in teams, and not from remote contributions.

Glass Ceiling or Flexibility?

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The Irony of Glass Ceiling - and the Working Mother

For starters, Marissa Mayer made news when she was hired for the top post 37 weeks into pregnancy. Could a "Mom-to-be" head an internet behemoth? That's the buzz that made heads turn. And it was not just the glass ceiling that was shattered with Ms Mayer's appointment as the Chief of Yahoo! The expectation was that parents - and women in particular - would be able to have their say in how they wanted to work. A mother at the helm indicates a culture of flexibility. Or, does it?

The irony was evident when Marissa Mayer, who hails from search giant Google, chose innovation over productivity. If researchers are to have their say, working from home fosters productivity at the cost of innovation. So, the choice, effectively, is between innovation and productivity. Do you want a productive workforce or do you want your organisation to innovate its way into leadership? And in the light of this debate, discussions on glass ceiling and flexibility seemed to have faded into oblivion.

Flexibility, Innovation and Employee Satisfaction - Should employees work from home?

It's a tough call. Would employees be more motivated if they had the freedom to choose? Would they be more productive if they were motivated? Would productivity come at the expense of innovation? Should innovation be given priority over workforce satisfaction? Would an unhappy workforce really be able to lead the market in terms of learning? If it is not a learning organisation, how would it be innovative, even if employees kept meeting one another in the absence of telecommuting?

While it may be fashionable to claim that innovation originates from all corners of the organisation, the resource-based view of human resource management draws a difference between core and peripheral workforce. The core workforce is one that is said to be integral to the organisation's success, while the peripheral workforce could be outsourced, says research. Does that mean that the peripheral workforce be made more productive by being allowed to work from home, while the core workforce is asked to report to work to foster innovation? How much innovation would be lost if employees were allowed to invest a few hours of the week from the comfort of their homes?

It does seem like it was a tough call that Marissa Mayer made when she approved of the decision by Yahoo's HR department. While the results would show in the coming days and months, the move is drastic nevertheless, given the increasing emphasis being laid on employee satisfaction and the availability of technology to facilitate telecommuting. What is sure, though, is that an organisation could neither be productive nor be innovative if its employees were not happy!

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