Yahoo surprised many in the tech world on Friday with its decision to eliminate the option for employees to work from home.
The move, as described in a company-wide memo leaked to Kara Swisher at AllThingsD, is intended to boost “collaboration and communication” at the Internet company by requiring all employees to physically report to one of Yahoo’s locations.
“Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings,” Jackie Reses, Yahoo’s head of HR, wrote in the memo. “Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home. We need to be one Yahoo!, and that starts with physically being together.”
The new rule didn’t just frustrate Yahoo employees who were directly affected; it also set off a fair amount of debate and criticism on Twitter from entrepreneurs, tech company employees and journalists who cover the industry.
Others noted that Yahoo’s thinking ran against their own work experience:
A few startups criticized the news and then slyly used it as a recruiting opportunity:
Not only did the new rule seem to buck the trend in tech workplaces, but it also appeared to go against Yahoo’s recent efforts to bring more of the perks common at other tech companies to Yahoo. Under Mayer’s leadership, Yahoo has given employees free meals, free iPhone 5s and initiated weekly all-hands meetings.
As it turns out, Yahoo’s situation may have been different from that of many other tech companies. Nicholas Carlson at Business Insider hears from a source that there are a “huge number” of remote workers in customer service, marketing and engineering, many of whom “weren’t productive.” For Mayer, the new rule will either force these workers to work in the office, which the company believes will help productivity, or force them to quit, which will help the company cut costs.