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Yahoo telecommuting ban draws debate from Oklahoma professionals

Some Oklahoma professionals said they understand Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer's ban on telecommuting, though many said the arrangement works well for their workplaces.
by Paula Burkes Modified: February 26, 2013 at 8:18 pm •  Published: February 27, 2013

Yahoo Inc. chief executive Marissa Mayer's pending ban on telecommuting — which was leaked to the press on Monday — sets women back 25 years, in the opinion of at least one Oklahoma City businesswoman.

“We finally break through the glass ceiling and one of the U.S.' largest employers takes a step like this. It's sad to see,” said Cyndy Hoenig of Pure PR. Hoenig said she works from home and — because of fewer interruptions and being more comfortable — gets more done than she ever did in an office. “It just might be at 7 a.m., 7 p.m. or 3 a.m.,” Hoenig said.

Mayer announced the rule, effective this June, in a memorandum now circulating online.

“We need to be one Yahoo, and that starts with physically being together,” she wrote. “… 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. …”

Most Oklahoma professionals we talked to disagreed with Mayer's decision, including managers at Teleflora and American Fidelity Assurance Co. Telecommuting works well for Teleflora, said human resources director Danielle Caldwell Ezell, who worries about the effect on Yahoo's retention and recruitment efforts.

Meanwhile, 670 of American Fidelity's home office and field sales colleagues here and nationwide telecommute at least part-time, human resources project coordinator Heather Henshall said.

“It's important for our colleagues to have that balance and it's allowed us to retain employees who've moved away from Oklahoma City,” Henshall said. Moreover, productivity has increased, so much so that one department decided they didn‘t need to fill an open position, she said.

American Fidelity, she said, is transitioning all employees to laptops so anyone can telecommute during inclement weather or a disaster.

According to a Reuters poll, nearly 10 percent of workers around the globe work from home every day, including some of the more than 50 million workers in the United States who telecommute at least part-time.

Still, at least some Oklahoma professionals could understand Mayer's decision, including execs in the same company with opposing views.

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by Paula Burkes
A 1981 journalism graduate of Oklahoma State University, Paula Burkes has more than 30 years experience writing and editing award-winning material for newspapers and healthcare, educational and telecommunications institutions in Tulsa, Oklahoma...
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