When Marissa Mayer was named Yahoo CEO, she became the first pregnant woman under the age of 50 to head a Fortune 500 company. When she mentioned that she was going to take a short maternity leave, her controversial decision was a hot news item. Today, Mayer is once again in the news because of a controversial decision, this time for her stance on telecommuting.

In a leaked memo from Yahoo's human resources department, Mayer announced a ban on all telecommuting because, "Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings. Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home."

I agree that the impromptu face-to-face meetings can lead to some great ideas, and when you’re dealing with a company like Yahoo, which has struggled for years, the more opportunities for game-changing ideas, the better. But that’s where I stop agreeing with the decision.

Speed and quality are two key productivity issues, and numerous surveys and research studies have repeatedly reported that telecommuting actually boosts employee productivity.

Here are just a few statistics compiled by the Telework Research Network:

  • Gen Y’ers are more difficult to recruit and to retain but they are particularly attracted flexible work arrangements. Gen Y'ers are often the heart of the tech world
  • A poll of 1,500 technology professionals revealed that 37 percent would take a pay cut of 10 percent if they could work from home. This might be a good way for Yahoo to save some money
  • AT&T workers work 5 more hours at home than their office workers. More productivity and more time working, that's a bonus
  • American Express workers produced 43 percent more than their office-based counterpoints. This isn't a small figure — that's nearly 50 percent more productivity than those working out of the office
One of the key figures in the Telework Research Network’s database is that, “78 percent of employees who call in sick, really aren’t. They do so because of family issues, personal needs and stress.” Telecommuting alleviates the need to call in sick for reasons other than personal illness. For example, a parent with a sick child can work from home, and even if the employee is only 50 percent productive due to caring for the ill child, that is 50 percent more productive than he would be if he missed the workday entirely.

This is where I play the “mom card.” Mayer is a mom, she understands the importance of work-life balance. This isn’t just a mom issue, though, this is a parenting issue. Mayer’s decision has led Yahoo to be labeled as both an anti-parent and an anti-female workplace. These are two labels that no company wants to be slapped with.

My issue with Mayer’s anti-telecommuting stance goes even further. She is the CEO of a technology company. Tech companies need to be on the leading edge to stay competitive, not decades behind the times.

Mayer’s decision to ban telecommuting at Yahoo gets a big “boo” from me. What about you? Do you think this is what Yahoo needs to truly recover from its woes, or is this a step in the wrong direction? (Watch a video update on the story below.)

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