Row Erupts over Flexible Working

Yahoo!An internal memo to Yahoo! employees last week asked all remote workers to relocate to the company’s offices.

The memo, from the corporation’s Executive Vice President of People and Development, in other words HR Director, issued the command down from the top, from Yahoo!’s CEO Marissa Mayer.

Starting from June, all employees who work remotely, even those who work just one or two days a week from home, will be required to give up all their flexible working arrangements.

In the memorandum, forwarded to the press by dusgruntled employees, the reason for the strict new direction is that "Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home."

Richard Branson, the head of the Virgin Group, was perplexed by the manouvres across the pond which he called "backward". Branson’s reaction, in a blog post on his company’s website, was that trust was an important part of the unwritten work contract:

"To successfully work with other people, you have to trust each other. A big part of this is trusting people to get their work done wherever they are, without supervision."

Mr Branson continued, saying:

"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."

The Virgin CEO went on to mention the role of technology in modern working practices, saying that the right technology was key to "…get the right balance between remote and office working." countering claims by Yahoo! by stating that his people work quickly and produce high quality work.

During last summer’s Olympics, telecomms privider O2 gave workers in its Slough offices the oportunity to work from home so that they could avoid congestion expected during the games.

O2 pointed out that its own flexible workforce were actually 15-20% more productive since they were not working out of the office.

The argument for flexible working is further backed up by findings from the CBI who, in 2011, reported that as many as 96% of businesses offered some sort of flexible working.

Related Articles

You can read more business articles on remote working in Employees working from home and The Law on Flexible Working.

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