Yahoo CEO sparks work from home debate – do employees care?

A controversial edict from Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer banning her employees from working from home – if you want to work at Yahoo, you need to be at Yahoo – has generated a great deal of commentary online, raising the question: just how important a benefit is this to employees.

Much of the commentary on Mayer’s edict, which also seems designed to trim her company’s bloated ranks, has largely been negative, as work from home defenders stand up in favour of work-life balance and claim they’re more productive at home. One exception though is Paolo Del Nibletto, editor of our sister publication Computer Dealer News, who defended Mayer’s decision:

“Let’s face some facts here: today’s workplace is a collaborative environment and to get ahead and be competitive you need to work as a team and not be on your own island.”

It’s a valid point – it’s difficult to stand out in the boss’s eye when you’re not around – although most work from home scenarios do involve a mixture of home working and office working, so it’s not necessarily all one or the other.

The argument often made in favour of such flexible work scenarios is that such benefits are necessary in today’s competitive talent environment in order to attract the best employees. But just how important are such benefits to them?

Related StoryCanadian bosses not sold on telework

According to a recent survey by recruitment firm Hays Canada, the trend may be going against yahoo, with some 27 per cent of Canadian businesses saying they want to add “ability to work from home” as a benefit in 2013, perhaps because, according to Hays, 78 per cent of organizations will experience moderate to extreme challenges recruiting top talent this year.

And on the employee side, according to a Robert Half Technology survey of 3,300 North American IT workers, the results are mixed. Three in four said a remote working option was at least somewhat important when considering a new job opportunity, but 74 per cent of IT workers also say they generally prefer working on-site versus remotely, The pro on-site side liked the camaraderie of working face-to-face with their colleagues, while the pro-remote working side said fewer interruptions and no commute made them more productive.


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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Jeff Jedras
Jeff Jedras
Jeff Jedras is a technology journalist with IT World Canada and a member of the IT Business team. He began his career in technology journalism in the late 1990s, covering the Ottawa technology sector for Silicon Valley North and the Ottawa Business Journal. He later covered the technology scene in Vancouver before joining IT World Canada in Toronto in 2005, covering enterprise IT for ComputerWorld Canada and the channel for Computer Dealer News. His writing has also appeared in the Vancouver Sun & the Ottawa Citizen.

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