Kelvinwright's Blog

postmodern thoughts

No-At-Home-Work Policy – an Epic Fail? Or a creative masterstroke?

In February, Forbes reported on a leaked memo from Yahoo, reporting that the company needed to be one Yahoo!, and that started with physically working together. In other words, the company’s employees risked losing their job if they didn’t come into the office every day.


Instead of the ever more popular work-at-home policies, the company had, according to the article, taken a massive step backwards in adopting a work-at-office policy. The company’s argument behind this measure was that in-person meetings boosted the quality of decision making, as well as producing creative business ideas. The support was that some of the best decisions were made and some of the best ideas developed from spontaneous corridor encounters and chance meetings in company cafeterias.


There is an argument that new business ideas improve when employees from different areas and departments bump into each other in the office and begin discussing and forging new ideas. This doesn’t always happen in programmed meetings. These chance meetings are lost when staff begin to spend large parts of their time working from home. However, the support for the company’s idea is based on increasing creativity and generating business ideas. So, is the Yahoo measure more suited to creative jobs? Are there jobs where creative competencies are not so critical to the role’s success? Are there jobs where home working could be better than coming into the office every day? For example, a technical operations job; or a sales executive that needs to hit those numbers and make call after call to reach target. Does it really matter whether these employees work from home or an office?


If then there are some jobs that benefit from spontaneous meetings over a latte, whilst others are better served from a more traditional home/office mix, is it wise to step backwards and instil a mandatory office-work-only for all policy?


There is a clear benefit from home working policies when working parents achieve the sought after work-life balance. Companies that allow staff to work some days from home can achieve greater productivity when their employees don’t lose time commuting to work, or the stress associated with the rush hour fight, or the search for a parking space. Many home workers actually work more than when they are in the office.


Yahoo’s initiative shouldn’t be dismissed outright, neither should be it be introduced across the board. There are clearly benefits to those chance meetings, just as there are for home working.



Original article:


April 29, 2013 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] -Technological advances – the worker is always switched on and is able to access the workplace anytime, anywhere. Whether or not this is a good thing is open to another debate. With the introduction of cloud based storage and virtual meeting tools, the need for companies to spend a fortune on expensive business trips is reduced. Technology is also reducing the need to even come in to the office (telecommuting is increasing), although as I blogged previously, some companies, Yahoo amongst them, have begun doubting the effectiveness of employees not meeting physically (see:…). […]

    Pingback by The Changing Workplace « Kelvinwright's Blog | February 20, 2014 | Reply

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