Is Yahoo trying to outlaw the inevitable by banning remote work?

More businesses are allowing workers increased flexibility to work from home, even as Yahoo looks to ban remote work.

Yahoo's CEO Marissa Mayer is looking to ban remote work by June, but she may be fighting an unwinnable battle against the tide of society.

In a memo released by Business Insider, Mayer said, "Beginning in June, we're asking all employees with work-from-home arrangements to work in Yahoo! offices." She cites collaboration and communication as key reasons for the change. But employees may already be accustomed to working remotely.

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Working from home is shifting from a rare perk to an expected benefit at many workplaces. A 2011 study by WorldatWork found that 98 percent of U.S. employers offer some form of workplace flexibility.

The study also found that companies that are more flexible also tend to have a lower turnover rate and "a majority of employers report a positive impact on employee satisfaction, motivation and engagement."

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Working remotely has caught on at several companies, including American Airlines, 1-800-FLOWERS, Sprint, Xerox and Aetna, CNN reported.

And remote arrangements don't only benefit employees, according to Microsoft's findings from 2011.

"Employers can tap into a larger talent pool, improve productivity, increase employee diversity and lower overhead costs," the findings say.

Telecommuting may even make the environment happier. A 2011 study from the Mobility Choice coalition (PDF) said, "Even a modest expansion of telecommuting could save Americans a total of $1.9 billion annually and reduce oil demand by 20 million barrels of oil per year."

DOWNSIDES

Remote work doesn't always benefit businesses — or employees.

San Francisco Gate reported that part of the reason Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer issued a ban on remote working is that some remote employees simply weren't productive.

SF Gate also said Yahoo needs to cut costs, and employees who are not willing to work in the office may quit.

Bloomberg reported that a 2008 study by Rensellear Polytechnic Management Professor Tim Golden found that workers left in the office were less satisfied with their jobs when they had co-workers who were working remotely.

That study said, "The non-teleworkers tend to find the workplace less enjoyable, have fewer and weaker emotional ties to co-workers, and generally feel less obligated to the organization."

But with so many companies offering at least some flexibility these days, it looks like Yahoo may be the odd one out.

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Full disclosure: MSN News is published by Microsoft.

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