Work from home arrangements are on the rise, at least in the U.S., with a 41% growth in the past decade. But as some companies explore the benefits of remote working — particularly aided by the prevalence of cloud-based computing — some are more keen on the benefits of physical presence. Yahoo!, for one, is reportedly putting a stop to remote working arrangements, and has ordered staff to start reporting to their physical offices starting this June.
“Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings,” wrote Jackie Reses, Yahoo’s head of HR. “Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home. We need to be one Yahoo!, and that starts with physically being together.”
This involves not only staff who had been working on remote arrangements on a full-time basis, but also those who may be working from home or remote locations once or twice per week. The memo — as first reported by AllThingsD — even specifically comments on those who need to “stay home to wait for the cable guy.” This means phyiscal presence takes precedent, and employees would have to “use [their] best judgment in the spirit of collaboration.”
Reses says this will enable all Yahoo! staff to participate in the company’s culture and contribute to the positive momentum. Understandably, some affected workers have expressed their disappointment with the new policy, especially those who were hired under the assumption they could work with flexibility, reports AllThingsD’s Kara Swisher.
Benefits of getting “physical”
Even with the rising trend in remote working arrangements, physical presence does have its benefits. A discussion on a local startup group, for instance, expounded on both the benefits and drawbacks of working remotely. Gabby Dizon from Boomzap says company culture is important, but it’s the instant, real-time interaction and the right tools that drive success, whether employees are physically together or not. Sometimes, it’s geographic limitations that will necessitate remote-working arrangements. Sulit.com.ph founder RJ David says, though, that working together physically can lead to better teamwork and collaboration.
As a point of reference, we can relate with the issue, given that e27 has staff working across Singapore, Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. With our team, though, this has some inherent advantages, especially when our editors, writers and contributors need to report on locale-specific topics. I would agree with Gabby that modern mobile and desktop-bound tools can help with real-time interaction. We do hold regular video-conference meetings to keep everyone’s efforts aligned with company goals. And these tools are also effectively our virtual “water coolers,” where discussions can go beyond work-related ones.
We asked for a comment from Yahoo! Southeast Asia, but we were told that official representatives do not comment on internal matters, which was also the same response that the company’s corporate communications representatives gave other media outlets.