Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s ban on telecommuting sparks a firestorm

Redesigning YahooBy Brandon Bailey

Yahoo (YHOO) CEO Marissa Mayer’s decision to order telecommuting employees back to the office has sparked a passionate debate over the increasingly common practice of working from home.

Criticism from some workers, especially working parents, portrayed Mayer as abandoning a modern, enlightened approach to helping employees juggle conflicting demands. Supporters said she may have reason to shake things up at the once-vaunted Internet company, which earned a reputation in recent years for falling behind in both inovation and competition.

The firestorm ignited Friday when Yahoo’s human resources chief sent a memo announcing that all employees will be asked to work in company offices starting in June. The memo quickly leaked to a prominent tech news blog, All Things D.

It’s an issue that resonates sharply in Silicon Valley, where companies like Google (GOOG), Cisco (CSCO) and others make Web-based software, videoconferencing systems and other high-tech tools that can help workers be productive at home. Yet some of Yahoo’s biggest competitors, including Google and Facebook, have spent heavily to design work spaces that encourage in-person collaboration, while providing free meals and other amenities that make it easier for employees to spend long hours at the office.

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