Yahoo! Mandates All Employees Report to the Office “In the Spirit of Collaboration.” No Autonomy for You!

With the advent of technologies that allow us to communicate remotely—Skype, email, texting…the telephone! More and more businesses allow employees to work remotely. Today, many “go to work” by turning on our computer or mobile device from home, or the neighborhood coffee shop. Data has shown that it lowers costs (e.g. no need to “fly out” for as many meetings, etc.), improves morale and helps with a better live-work balance.

Technology has created the opportunity for a modern workplace that is more of a state of mind than it is a place. Like it or not: In the Information Age, how organizations run, and how employees interact to get work done has fundamentally changed.

And, more and more companies are adopting “autonomous” work environments—where employees manage their own schedule and decide when they work 1). Alone, 2). In-groups via electronic communication or 3). In-person with team members. It is an acknowledgement that there is a time and a place to work independently, and a time and a place to work together.

The trick to “autonomy” in a modern workplace is ensuring that employees don’t see it as simply a “free pass” to not show up for work. It actually challenges people to be judged more on performance, rather than attendance.

When you work independently, it is hard to hide behind a team of strong producers. I’ve worked with many organizations to create autonomous work environments. Most have found that find this new way working weeds out the slackers, and anyone who is not producing (or capable of producing) at levels expected by the organization.

So, it comes as a bit of a surprise that Yahoo! has announced that all Yahoo! employees who work remotely must relocate to company facilities.

No “autonomy” for you!

“Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home,” reads the memo to employees from HR head Jackie Reses. “We need to be one Yahoo!, and that starts with physically being together.”

Apparently, whether you are an employee who had been working remotely full-time, or even one or two days per week, you must now show up to Yahoo! offices every day—whether you’re working alone, or in a group.

Beginning in June, employees who work from home must comply without exception or quit. All Things D reports that the tone and tactics have infuriated some at the company, as many felt they were initially hired with the assumption that they could work more flexibly.

So it seems that as more and more companies are employing a new way of working that gives employees the freedom to be productive in an environment that works best for them, Yahoo! is bucking the trend. While fans of “Autonomy” say it tends to deliver more productivity, inspiration, motivation, and employee happiness, Yahoo! says No! To! Autonomy!

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