Office landlords and managers: if the telecommuting boom and its attendant declines in demand for office space in some markets have got you down, this week has two pieces of good news.
1) Tech giant Yahoo! announced this week that it would no longer allow a telecommuting workforce. New CEO Marissa Meyer rolled out the policy with an announcement from HR head Jackie Reses ending all “remote” work in a memo from to the search company’s 11,500 employees:
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.
Beginning in June, we’re asking all employees with work-from-home arrangements to work in Yahoo! offices. If this impacts you, your management has already been in touch with next steps. And, for the rest of us who occasionally have to stay home for the cable guy, please use your best judgment in the spirit of collaboration. Being a Yahoo isn’t just about your day-to-day job, it is about the interactions and experiences that are only possible in our offices.
It is left to the commercial real estate professional to conclude wether or not upward lease adjustments for your property’s office hallways and cafeterias are justified in the wake of the announcement.
2) The Wall Street Journal has released a Marketwatch video wherein a study is touted that found that work-at-home careers are easily stalled. Telecommuting mployees of a Chinese company studied were found to be 50% less likely to be promoted when compared to in-house workers.
Market and technological change is hard to handle or predict, and sometimes a trend truly stalls, then reverses. Do these items constitute a trend against telecommuting? If I had to bet, I’d say no. It’s a bit tough to see these two examples — a B-team search company and a firm situated in a completely different culture than that of the US — as indicative of much going forward. For commercial properties professionals looking to get in front of the changes, I’d advise looking into the burgeoning shared workspace market rather than expecting technology to stop disrupting traditional office space demand patterns.