The Real Reasons No One At Yahoo Will Be Working From Home

A Yahoo internal memo this week said “it is critical that we are all present in our offices.” The backlash was swift and furious–but the move was likely less about improving workplace communication and more about creating attrition.

The Real Reasons No One At Yahoo Will Be Working From Home

We’ve reported that Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer wants to focus on becoming a daily habit for users. According to a leaked memo this week, she’s shifting the habits of employees, too–starting in June, nobody’s working from home.


As posted on AllThingsDigital, HR head Jackie Reses notes that the ultimatum is part of the Web 1.0 company’s becoming “the absolute best place to work.” Citing a “spirit of collaboration,” being present in the office will no longer be optional:

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.

A close reading

That insights can arise from happy accidents is part of the “engineering serendipity” ethos present in Zappos and Apple–though progessively that’s part of an extended “palette of place” where workers can choose to work from home, office, or a cafe or coworking space. The memo portends something much more strict: all employees with work-from-home arrangements are being asked to work in Yahoo offices.

“Being a Yahoo isn’t just about your day-to-day job,” the memo reads, “it is about the interactions and experiences that are only possible in our offices.”

Though prompting public outcry, the move shows Mayer’s subtle torquing of Yahoo’s structure: a source tells Business Insider that the company has remote workers across divisions who never came in and “weren’t productive,” including people that “hid” to the extent that no one knew they were still working there. As well, since some remote workers won’t want to come into the office, they’ll quit–a bonus for a company that wants to slim down, a talent move parallel to Mayer’s call to condense 60 apps to 12.

Mayer has said before that the company’s success will hinge on “fast, nimble, small” teams. By the looks of the memo, those teams will be working shoulder to shoulder.

[Image: Flickr user Eden Politte]

About the author

Drake Baer was a contributing writer at Fast Company, where he covered work culture. He's the co-author of Everything Connects, a book about how intrapersonal, interpersonal, and organizational psychology shape innovation.