Remote Working: The Debate
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A leaked memo from the offices of online giants Yahoo has sparked a debate across various businesses in regards to the pros and cons of remote working. The email memo was sent to all staff working at the Yahoo offices, informing them that remote working will be banned from June 2013. As reported by the BBC, the email read: “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.”

Missed opportunities

Richard Branson, the Virgin entrepreneur, quickly responded to the Yahoo ban, claiming the move is a “backwards step in an age when remote working is easier and more effective than ever.” However, online monoliths Google perhaps also have the same view as Yahoo.

Patrick Pichette, chief financial advisor for Google, was asked how many people in his office telecommute, with his answer being: “as few as possible.”

He went on to explain: “There is something magical about sharing meals. There is something magical about spending the time together, noodling on ideas, about asking at the computer ‘What do you think of this?’”

Business divided

It seems the business world is torn when it comes to telecommuting and remote working. Despite some of the biggest businesses such as Yahoo and Google showing less than supportive views of the work technique, there are signs that working from home is actually on the increase.

According to a survey by the CBI, 59% of employers in the UK included in the survey offer telecommuting to their staff, which is a huge rise from the 13% 5 years previously; in the US, 24% of employed people work from home at least some hours during the week.

Home working taboo

Despite the rise in opportunities, not all employees are keen to take advantage of these offers.  One of the main reasons only a reported 2.4% of employed people consider their home as a primary place of work could be due to ingrained social ideas about working from home.

Not being seen in the office has been seen to affect an employee’s chance of a pay rise, as well as result in lower performance reviews. Due to this affect, employees are therefore likely to work much harder and feel under much more stress whilst working at home in order to ‘prove’ their work ethics.

International communications specialists Powwownow commented upon Yahoo’s memo, saying: “We are huge advocates of remote working and provide an abundance of tools for people to be able to keep in touch and collaborate with colleagues easily – so to hear that a company such as Yahoo is now not allowing its staff to do so comes across as a backwards move.”