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Yahoo! Going a Step Back

In a memo sent out Friday, Yahoo! told employees who work remotely that they can no longer work from their homes.

“Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home,” reads the memo to employees from HR head Jackie Reses. “We need to be one Yahoo!, and that starts with physically being together.”

The new work rule will apply to several hundred employees including those who work from home only a day or two each week, starting in June. After that, employees who work from home must comply with the changes, or quit, according to the memo which was published on AllThingsD.com.

You’ll remember that Marissa Mayer, the CEO of Yahoo! was hired when she was five months pregnant and only a two-week maternity leave after giving birth… I wonder if she will be bringing her nanny with her to the office, or if anyone else working at Yahoo! will have that luxury. I’m sure many wouldn’t even be able to afford a nanny… which is why they worked from home in the first place!

Of course employees are angry because they were hired, and accepted their jobs, with the assumption that they could work with flexibility. Many staffers are indeed parents – parents who likely worked from home at a lower salary keeping in mind travel and expensive daycare costs when working outside the home.

So what does this say about Yahoo! and Marissa Mayer? It says that Mayer is unreasonable (I mean really, who doesn’t take time off to be with their newborn?!)  And it says Yahoo! proves not to be the forward-thinking tech company they are striving to be. It also puts a real dent in what women are trying to achieve today – that having a balance between family and career IS possible with remote workplace flexibility.

The Blogosphere has exploded with responses to the news, many of them saying it feels feel like we’re being put back 30 years. Yes it’s a setback for parents, many who depend one on spouse’s flexible work arrangements while caring for their children.

Other countries have more flexibility for parents – part-time work or flexible work arrangements is the norm for women in the Netherlands, for example. We should be seeing more and more companies offering flexibility, especially technology companies. With more business being done online, it’s a shame that Yahoo! has made this decision. You’d think that a global company would be embracing collaboration in the virtual space!

What do you think?