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In Yahoo’s Wake, Telecommuting Debate Reignites


The recently-leaked email from Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer announcing plans to eliminate the company's work-from-home policy has ignited a fierce debate on telecommuting. The Washington Post featured a funny article on the subject, riffing on the potential distractions of working from home. Forbes criticized the move in a piece titled “4 Reasons Marissa Mayer’s No-Work-From-Home Policy Is an Epic Fail,” and even Virgin CEO Richard Branson chimed in on his blog in “Give people the freedom of where to workog.”

While Mayer apparently hopes to increase collaboration and boost productivity with move, many have pointed out that telework offers many mutual benefits for companies and employees. For example, a 2011 WorldatWork study found that companies that offered flexible work options had greater employee satisfaction, motivation and engagement – which ultimately translated to less turnover too.  Another benefit  for companies offering telecommuting is lower overhead; Aetna increased its telecommuting work population from 9% to 47% and saved $78 million in real estate alone.

An estimated 16 million employees that work from home at least one day per month. While only 2.5% of Americans work primarily from home, this number has jumped 66% between 2005 and 2010. Given the success many companies have had with flexible work options from cost-savings to employee productivity and retention, this trend has staying power, even as the telecommuting debate rages on.

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