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Yahoo Work From Home Ban Sparks Local Reaction

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WALTHAM (CBS) – The new CEO of search engine Yahoo is making waves by saying employees can no longer work from home.

Many working parents say telecommuting gives them the flexibility they need along with boosting their productivity. The new boss at Yahoo is not alone, as some local company chiefs share her concern.

At the media and marketing firm Inkhouse, boss Beth Monaghan was not among those surprised when Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer scrapped her firm’s work-from-home option. Inkhouse once allowed its employees to work remotely, but changed the policy as the Waltham business expanded.

“As we grew, we realized we were really missing out on the hallway conversations and the impromptu brainstorms that make us grow quicker,” said Monaghan.

Although working from home is not an everyday thing at Inkhouse, employees are still allowed to telecommute on Fridays.

Tina Cassidy was in the office during our visit, but works from home on days when the challenges of three sons demand it.

“It’s important to have a balance. If employees feel chained to their desk it can have an adverse reaction, if employees feel there is some flexibility, it can help make them more creative because they’re happier in their jobs,” said Cassidy.

Cassidy understands why Yahoo’s workers are frustrated, “it’s difficult to change the rules for employees mid-stream, I think that’s part of what the uproar is.”

The end of telecommuting is one of many changes Mayer has made to help save the struggling search engine. The new Yahoo CEO is also a new mother, and has been criticized for ending the company’s flexibility for working parents.

Career management expert Elaine Varelas doesn’t think this is an attack on the family friendly workplace. She believes it’s just a bold effort to establish a culture of success.

“Right now, she’s saying we need all of the troops. We need them in one location,” says Varelas. “We need them communicating formally and informally, and we want to turn this organization around.”

Back at Inkhouse – the boss understands both sides of the coin, preferring to have everyone in the tent daily, while still building some family flexibility into the model.

Still, she can’t even guarantee that “work-from-home” Friday will stick, as the company grows down the road.

Several firms have cut back on telecommuting options in the last couple of years, including Bank of America.

Federal labor stats indicate that nearly as many men telecommute as do women. Studies are mixed on whether employees actually get more done – or less – while working at home.

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