The office serves a number of functions, but traditionally, the main one was to get access to technology (phones and typewriters) and files. When those became mobile, why force people who would rather work from home to come into the office? At Yahoo, they have just told all of their employees to get back to their desks in the office five days a week. Kara Swisher at All Things Digital says they must comply without exception or quit. She got a copy of Yahoo's proprietary and confidential memo, which includes their reasons:
An ex-yahooer explained in comments why he had worked from home, and why he thought he was far more productive there:
To become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side. That is why it is critical that we are all present in our offices. 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. We need to be one Yahoo!, and that starts with physically being together.
I didn't have to put up with numbskull self-important programmers constantly yakking to each other LOUDLY from the next set of cubicles about non-work-related stuff, and I wasn't being distracted every 20 minutes by some bored soul coming over to my desk to go for coffee or foosball, or just to talk about the spreading ennui of knowing we were working for a company who's glory days were long over, all while being mocked by the cheery emoticons and whatever new slogans someone thought would be inspirational posted on the elevator doors like some ironic torture device.
As studies have shown, some people are more productive at home; others need the office, being around other people. Some companies thrive on "hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings" ; others just want to get their work done. What works for some people doesn't for the others.
Telling everyone that they must work from the office five days a week, even to the point where staying at home for the cable guy is an issue of "best judgement in the spirit of collaboration" seems a bit extreme for an internet company. But at Yahoo!, "it is about the interactions and experiences that are only possible in our offices."
What do you think?