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Working from home: Helpful or hurtful?

Marissa Mayer recently said that Yahoo! employees will no longer be able to work from home. Many people have decried Mayer’s decision as a blow to working moms. I can’t speak to that issue directly since it’s something I haven’t had to balance yet, but I can understand the logic behind that argument. It seems to me that the bigger issue for working parents is one of flexibility of hours rather than strictly a working from home issue. Although I can see how the two are intertwined.

Mayer has a specific sort of situation on her hand with Yahoo!  The once-powerful company has been struggling recently. Secondly, Yahoo employees are required to log a specific number of hours into the system and the employees working from home weren’t meeting this requirement. Given these two circumstances (particularly the first one) asking employees to be in the office — at the very least, more often — makes sense to me. In theory if your company is in trouble, employees should want to pull together and come to the office to help save the company (and their jobs). But with 11,500 employees , it might be a stretch to think that everyone at Yahoo! would feel such a responsibility.

As far as working from home in the legal industry, I generally think that it is a good thing. While there will always be certain aspects and areas of law that require collaboration, a great deal of legal work is solitary. Allowing employees to work from home can improve morale by giving them flexibility and autonomy. It’s also better for the environment and cuts down on pollution and congestion caused by commuting. Face-time is, of course, important, but if employees commute to work to sit at computers by themselves all day long, it just makes sense to consider a work-from-home component.

There’s also personal preference to consider. On the few occasions I’ve done it, I enjoyed the luxury of working from home. But many people prefer to keep work at work, or can’t concentrate at home. For them, the change of scenery of the office helps their productivity.

What is your personal preference? Do you work from home at all now? Do you have strong feelings on Mayer’s decision?