Yahoo CEO Delivers Death Blow to Telecommuting: Smart Move?

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer rocked the telecommuting boat at her struggling company this week when she effectively laid down the law and clipped the practice of telecommuting at Yahoo.

Yahoo employees will now be required to show up for work. Not surprisingly, reactions to the decree were as strong as they were mixed.

Personal interaction, Mayer’s supporters argue, remains the most effective way to convey a company’s direction to employees while keeping them focused within an environment that can monitor that focus.

Around the industry, some have praised the move as a way to crack the whip on lazy employees. Others, however, like mogul Richard Branson, think its a backwards move.

“To successfully work with other people, you have to trust each other,” Branson writes on his blog today. “A big part of this is trusting people to get their work done wherever they are, without supervision. It is the art of delegation, which has served Virgin and many other companies well over the years.”

We like to give people the freedom to work where they want, safe in the knowledge that they have the drive and expertise to perform excellently, whether they at their desk or in their kitchen. Yours truly has never worked out of an office, and never will. So it was perplexing to see Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer tell employees who work remotely to relocate to company facilities. This seems a backwards step in an age when remote working is easier and more effective than ever.

“If you provide the right technology to keep in touch, maintain regular communication and get the right balance between remote and office working, people will be motivated to work responsibly, quickly and with high quality,” he concludes. “Working life isn’t 9-5 any more. The world is connected. Companies that do not embrace this are missing a trick.”

So who is correct? Will Mayer’s policy turn things around at Yahoo? Or will Branson’s vision prevail in the end at Yahoo and elsehwere? Please weigh in with a thought or comment below.