Marissa Mayer, Yahoo, And The Pros And Cons Of Working From Home

Whether or not she wants to be a role model for company culture or women in power roles, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has reinvigorated the debate over telecommuting. Here’s a guide to the conversation unfolding.

Marissa Mayer, Yahoo, And The Pros And Cons Of Working From Home

Yahoo‘s Marissa Mayer may not be the first CEO to crack down on telecommuting, but her recent memo to staffers provoked one of the Internet’s more heated discussions on the pros and cons of working from home. The discussion became so widespread that Yahoo issued a statement less than a week later clarifying that its decision to reverse its telecommuting policy was not meant to be taken as “a broad industry view on working from home.” Whether you agree with Mayer or are regularly struck with creative inspiration while in your pajamas, we’ve put together a Fast Company reader with stories that make the case for both sides.


The Case For Working From Home

It makes you more productive.
Sure, you can save fuel power and time by cutting out the twice-daily commute. But the real benefit of working from home could be amplified productivity: According to a Stanford University study of call center employees at a Chinese company, telecommuters’ performance improved by 13%.
Read more: “Working From Home Makes You More Productive”

It lets companies hang on to great employees.
When “work” isn’t synonymous with “going to the office,” it allows companies to keep great employees who aren’t willing or able to move. Plus, without physical water cooler gossip, every employee has to commit to communicating to get things done.
Read more: “7 Great Reasons To Encourage Working Remotely”

It doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice speed or quality.
Just because your workers aren’t sharing the same physical space doesn’t necessarily mean collaboration is dead. By staying on top of email and checking in often with colleagues and superiors, remote employees can make sure their telepresence is felt just as much as if they were in the office.
Read more: “Hey, Marissa: Remote Workers Can Collaborate, Too”


It means you’ll be better prepared when disaster strikes.
Weather extremes and other disasters are always bound to hinder your work productivity to some extent. But if teleworking is already part of your repertoire, it’s much more likely you’ll be able to power on with minimal disruption.
Read more: “8 Steps To Make Telework And Flexible Hours Part Of Your Disaster-Response Plan”

When you love what you do, you’ll work like you mean it, no matter where you are.
Motivating yourself from home is infinitely easier if you wake up each morning looking forward to the project you’re working on. After that, it’s simply about developing the same habits you’d adopt if you had to go into an office. And yes, that includes putting on pants.
Read more: “How To Work From Home Like You Mean It”

The Case For Office Space

“Working from home” isn’t good for working or for being at home.
A case against parents who choose to work from home simply argues that you can’t be in two places at once. Attempting to do so only serves to foster disappointment from both work colleagues and family.
Read more: “Why Working From Home Is The Worst Of Both Worlds”


Working and living under the same roof makes it harder to mentally “check out” of work when the day is done.
When you’re trying to make your living in the same place you make your home, the way many freelancers do, it can become harder to identify when one ends and the other begins. That can translate into greater exhaustion and lower confidence in your work performance.
Read more: “Why Freelancers Are So Depressed”

It keeps the distractions of home life at bay.
Although working from home can provide a quiet sanctuary away from a bustling office and gossipy coworkers, it can also present a different set of distractions. Suddenly, the laundry you’ve been meaning to do becomes irresistible, and you’re two hours from where you started.
Read more: “Will Working Remotely Work? 7 ‘What If’ Scenarios To Consider First”

There are some things you can’t do remotely.
Box CEO Aaron Levie tries to schedule face time with his customers whenever possible, whether that means scheduling meetings while on business trips or having customers come visit the office.
Read more: “Box CEO Aaron Levie On Scheduling Face Time With Customers”


Sometimes, working from home just isn’t realistic.
The idea of sending an email to your boss while sipping a mug of coffee and balancing a serene tot on your knee will almost always be just that: an idea, and not a very realistic one, at that.
Read more: “Work/Life Balance Is A Myth; Here’s What You Can Do About It”

A Happy Medium


Sometimes, curing office doldrums is simply about finding a temporary change of scenery, whether that’s in a coffee shop, a coworking space, or even on a park bench.

[Image: Flickr user tashmahal]


About the author

Christina is an associate editor at Fast Company, where she writes about technology, social media, and business.