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Telecommuters To Yahoo: Boo

Publication Date: 
February 26, 2013
USA Today
Elizabeth Weise

Rock Center Fellow Vivek Wadhwa spoke with USA Today's Elizabeth Weise on the decision by Yahoo to end telecommuting and why the decision "makes sense for Yahoo, but not for many other companies." 

Almost 10% of U.S. workers do their jobs from home at least one day a week, so news that tech giant Yahoo will end the practice in June surprised many.

"It's the only thing that has made our lives remotely possible and affordable and sort of possible to raise kids," says Lopa Pal, 36, donor relations officer at the Greenbelt Alliance, a conservation group in the San Francisco Bay Area. When her second child was born, she wanted more flexibility and talked to her boss.


Yahoo's decision makes sense for Yahoo but not for many other companies, says Vivek Wadhwa, a workplace innovation researcher at Stanford University.

"Yahoo is one messed-up company right now. The culture is in awful shape -- values, loyalty, you name it. Marissa inherited a complete mess," he says. By bringing everyone in-house, she'll be able to reprogram the company's work culture while also easily jettisoning a lot of deadwood."

Working at home is popular in Silicon Valley, he says, but it works best when the work has well-defined outcomes such as reports completed or sales made, not for innovative jobs in which brainstorming is important.