Yahoo!The decision by Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer to end the option for Yahoo! employees to work at home should matter to all working families and businesses. In one move by a highly visible executive and company, the decision threatens advances made over the last several decades in the workplace that have benefited working families and strengthened the competitiveness of American businesses. At the same time, Mayer’s decision underscores that workplace flexibility works when employers and workers benefit – and if it isn’t working for one side, flexibility may not be right for that company.

Both extensive Corporate Voices for Working Families’ research and the policies of our best-practice companies point to the fact that workplace flexibility options make a big difference for employees and their families and for the businesses that adopt these policies as a strategic management imperative. When companies provide options that help employees strike a balance between work and family, morale and productivity increases – and businesses benefit from less turnover and a more dedicated and productive workforce. Likewise, businesses find that these policies are critical management tools that enhance recruitment, retention, engagement, cost control, productivity, and ultimately, financial performance.

Businesses, working on behalf of all stakeholders, must continue to take the lead to promote and implement programs and policies that improve the lives of working families, while making our economy more vigorous and our nation more prosperous. When a prominent company such as Yahoo! turns back the clock on a flexible work option like working from home (that we know benefits working families and the business bottom line), it helps to create an environment ripe for new federal and state government employer mandates. That’s a setback for those businesses that strategically manage their organizations in the best interests of their employees and their own profitability and competitiveness.

Yahoo! is in a tough business, and the company’s stated desire to foster greater innovation and teamwork across its workforce is certainly laudable. Yet in our view, Mayer didn’t have to pick between telecommuting and better performance, when a management strategy promoting workplace flexibility would have given her both outcomes.

Corporate Voices’ research studies and best-practice case studies concerning flexible work options are available at http://www.cvworkingfamilies.org/publications/workplaceflex

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