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What the pundits don’t see

Recently, Yahoo’s new CEO Marissa Mayer issued a company memo banning employees from working from home, immediately calling up indictments from commentators all across business and journalism. Those pundits, however, are forgetting one very important fact—namely, Mayer’s former employer.

Yahoo’s new CEO was hired from none other than web giant Google. If that company’s reputation isn’t enough to fend off critics, maybe numbers will. Try stock price. Google’s shares are trading above $800 at the time of this writing. Yahoo sits around a measly $20.

Granted, that share price probably suffered a few setbacks in the wake of Mayer’s predecessors. Yahoo went through an abnormally large string of CEO’s over a relatively short period of time, one of whom stepped down after having been discovered fabricating his résumé. Mayer may prove a drastic improvement over Yahoo’s former top dogs.

Furthermore, Google’s reputation as a beacon of talent and innovation is not unwarranted. It draws—or perhaps buys—some of the best minds to sustain that drive towards dominating every sphere of everyone’s lives. Google has relegated old-school libraries to the realm of obsolescence. Google Maps virtually destroyed MapQuest. Google is even working toward the world of iRobot by building driverless cars.

Even Apple, another icon of innovation and beautiful design, is having trouble keeping up with Google. The maps application Apple developed to separate itself was such a bust that Internet memes abound making fun of it. Even as prevalent as iPhones seem, they still lag behind Google’s Android operating system by a wide margin for smartphone market-share.

The point is that obviously Google is doing something right. Not that Forbes writers aren’t good business minds, but most of them probably haven’t worked for arguably the best company in the modern era. Yahoo lags behind and needs a boost to catch up. Snagging Mayer from such a rival was probably wise.

She claims that the reason for the directive is to increase efficiency and innovation. Granted, it is expected that there will be some backlash from employees who enjoy working from home, but they as well ought to keep quiet. Nick Balletta, CEO of webcasting company TalkPoint, points out in a CNBC article that if a job can be done from home, it can probably just as easily be outsourced. He also argues that if outrage leads to employees leaving the company because they can’t work from home anymore, then the company won’t have lost much in the way of valuable workers.

On top of the intangible benefits that working in the same physical space may bring in terms of innovation, Quartz, a blog focusing on business, recently posted about how hard data supports that efficiency is enhanced when the employees are working in the same office. Indeed it is hard to believe that, on average, those working from home will be more efficient. From screaming children to barking dogs and everything else in between, an office is a much better place to get things done.

Sure, Mayer’s move may not be a popular one, but something needs to change for Yahoo. Pundits should pause and realize that Mayer comes from a company that makes Yahoo seem like an insect. Everyone, from Yahoo employees to opinionated columnists, could probably learn a thing or two from the new boss.

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