Yahoo's focus on mobile apparently requires its employees to stay in the office.
ATD is reporting that CEO Marissa Mayer let it be known yesterday -- via a memo to employees from HR head Jackie Reses -- that come June, any existing work-from-home arrangements will no longer apply.
"To become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side," reads the memo, as published by ATD's Kara Swisher, to whom it was leaked.
Swisher reports that the change has rankled some workers who say they were hired with the understanding that their work locale would be flexible.
But perhaps they should have seen this coming. Last July, not long after becoming the struggling tech icon's new CEO (and not long before touting Yahoo's focus on mobile), former Googler Mayer announced that food in Yahoo's URLs Cafe in its Sunnyvale HQ would thenceforth be free. Changes to the layout of the Yahoo buildings and individual employee work areas were also begun, to, as Swisher reported at the time, make them more "collaborative and cool."
Cool? Perhaps. But the new policy apparently strikes some as anything but, and that could be important in an industry where competition for workers can be fierce (not to mention an era when telecommuting is becoming more and more accepted). Swisher quotes an unnamed tech executive as saying, "Our engineers would not put up with that. So, we'd never focus on it." And she quotes an unnamed Yahoo worker as calling the move "a morale killer."
Still, Mayer is not alone in thinking that having workers in the same place can lead to casual exchanges that in turn can lead to breakthroughs for products. Steve Jobs thought this true as well (and Mayer's alma mater apparently agrees).
We've contacted Yahoo for comment on the memo and will update this story when we hear back. (See update note at the bottom of this post.) In the meantime, here's the memo in full:
YAHOO! PROPRIETARY AND CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION -- DO NOT FORWARD
Over the past few months, we have introduced a number of great benefits and tools to make us more productive, efficient and fun. With the introduction of initiatives like FYI, Goals and PB&J, we want everyone to participate in our culture and contribute to the positive momentum. From Sunnyvale to Santa Monica, Bangalore to Beijing -- I think we can all feel the energy and buzz in our offices.
To become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side. That is why it is critical that we are all present in our offices. Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings. Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home. We need to be one Yahoo!, and that starts with physically being together.
Beginning in June, we're asking all employees with work-from-home arrangements to work in Yahoo! offices. If this impacts you, your management has already been in touch with next steps. And, for the rest of us who occasionally have to stay home for the cable guy, please use your best judgment in the spirit of collaboration. Being a Yahoo isn't just about your day-to-day job, it is about the interactions and experiences that are only possible in our offices
Thanks to all of you, we've already made remarkable progress as a company -- and the best is yet to come.
Update, February 26 at 1:42 p.m. PT: A Yahoo representative provided us with the following statement today:
We don't discuss internal matters. This isn't a broad industry view on working from home -- this is about what is right for Yahoo, right now.