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Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has been getting a lot of attention in the news lately after it was announced that the company would no longer allow employees to telecommute from home. The practice of telecommuting has been on the rise in recent years in the United States as more and more jobs are able to be accomplished from the comfort of the home. Telecommuters typically only need access to a computer, Internet connections, and phone to do their jobs. The question Mayer’s announcement raises is whether or not this practice of telecommuting works.

Mayer cites decreased engagement, productivity, and innovation as reasons for Yahoo’s new policy against telecommuting, but do these reasons hold water? Many studies indicate that telecommuters are actually more productive than their in-office counterparts, perhaps due to the belief that they need to work harder to prove they can do their jobs at home just as well. As far as engagement and innovation are concerned, it seems that Yahoo is the one lacking the creativity to reach out and engage these employees, many of whom see telecommuting as a solution to busy family schedules and other duties.

In the short-term, Mayer’s decision may impact employee morale and productivity. In the long-term Yahoo’s non-friendly stance on telecommuters could cost the company talent as many people seek work flexibility from other companies. Time will tell whether or not Yahoo ultimately benefits from this policy, but in a business world increasingly defined by mobility and flexibility, I think it is more likely to backfire.

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In Managing the Mobile Workforce by David Clemons and Michael Kroth, mobile workers are defined as those who are not physically located within a centralized building or who move between work locations, and who are able to access company resources through private networks, the Internet, and mobile networks. It is estimated that mobile workers worldwide will surpass one billion by 2011, which comprises 75 percent of the U.S. workforce. These technology-enabled workers will have unlimited global job opportunities and easy access to companies that will value them. Wireless broadband networks, mobile devices, social networking, cloud computing, and a global economy are changing communications and computing. For businesses, this is an opportunity to apply new forms of work and technologies that will lead to competitive advantages in their markets.

For a free trial of EBSCO Business Book Summaries click here.

Related book summaries in the BBS library: Making Telework WorkThe Distance Manager, The 2020 Workplace

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