Click here to read the article “Did Yahoo Blow It?” by Louis Bedigian, quoting Robert E. Hall. Article originally appeared on benzinga.com, March 2013.
When Yahoo (NASDAQ: YHOO [FREE Stock Trend Analysis]) CEO Marissa Mayer sent out a memo to inform employees that they will no longer be allowed to work from home, she likely expected to receive a few complaints. She had no idea it would set off an Internet firestorm.
Virtually every mainstream publication has covered the story — many have done so multiple times. However, most of the commentary has been from individuals who simply agree or disagree with the decision.
Robert E. Hall, an expert on personal and workplace relationships, told Benzinga that he feels Mayer made the decision in attempt to remedy her firm’s struggles with innovation, collaboration and motivation.
“What they had to recognize is there’s been a significant shift in the relationships — not only in the workforce but across all of society,” said Hall, who recently authored a new book entitled The Land of Strangers. “Information develops rapidly; competence develops slowly.”
Hall referred to Mayer’s announcement as a “shortsighted” decision, adding that a 2012 survey showed that 1/3 of workers planned to leave their job by the year’s end. When another survey was conducted by career site Glassdoor in January 2013, the results indicated that employed individuals are no more content to stay put this year.
This could pose a problem for Yahoo, which may find it difficult to acquire and maintain top talent. That may not be a problem though; Hall said that Yahoo may not be interested in doing much hiring.
For those who are allowed to work from home full-time, Hall provided a bit of caution.
“A lot of people will say, ‘My ability to work at home makes me more productive,’” he said. “The question is, ‘Does it make the organization more productive?’”
Believe it or not, Hall said that the in-office interruptions that seem to delay an individual’s progress may actually be important to the overall job.
Aside from the question of productivity, there is great risk involved in working from home.
Hall pointed to a story in The New York Times that highlighted the results of a recent study conducted by Stanford University, which found that the “rate at which home-based workers were promoted dropped by 50 percent” when compared to their in-office counterparts.
Last year The Economist published a similar story with research from MIT Sloan Management Review, which also found that telecommuters were less likely to be promoted.
Thus, while Yahoo may have blown it with the press (and individuals who will never actually work at the company), it seems that the firm may have done some of its employees a favor by forcing them get out of the house.