Coworking Welcomes Yahoo’s Soon-To-Be-Ex-Remote Workers

next space innovation

Since publishing our critical post on Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer’s decision to ban remote work at the struggling company, there have been lots of responses, some similarly critical and some praising the decision. Leave it to the always clever folks at NextSpace to notice and fill a need overlooked in the chaos.

The California-based NextSpace chain realized that those Yahoo! employees not taking the hint to quit their jobs might be more than a little terrified of returning to a traditional office environment. You know, with other people, and pants, and stuff. When Diana Rothschild (the brains behind NextKids, NextSpace’s newly announced coworking workspace + playspace model) saw the article about Mayer’s decree, she immediately thought “we should invite all Yahoo members to be NextSpace members”.

A few days ago, they posted this slice of brilliance:

Hello Yahoo!

We heard the news that all Yahoo! employees will have to work full time at the Yahoo! offices beginning in June. Between now and then, we’d like to invite you to work at one of our four Bay Area NextSpace locations for free. Nuthin’. Nada. Bumpkiss. On us.

Why join us at NextSpace? If you’ve been working offsite for a while, we find that people often need a bit of a refresher on what it’s like to work in an office. A few hints to get you started: wear pants, use your inside voice, and maybe keep the Nerf guns at home.

Even better, we’d like you to experience the collisions, connections, and collaborations that happen when you work at NextSpace.

“We agree with Marissa in that isolation is not conducive to working at one’s creative, innovative and productive best,” said Sara Vainer of NextSpace. “When we heard that Yahoo employees will have to return to the office full time we felt that NextSpace could help them with their transition. At NextSpace our main focus is the community, we feel the connections and collaboration opportunities are the most valuable aspects of our membership, and so we think if Yahoo employees spent some time in our spaces we could not only help them get “re-acclimated” to working in an office setting but also in building relationships and making connections.”

Well said, Sara! A great example of the agility of coworking spaces and the variety of needs they can fill. Instead of getting hung up on the debate, NextSpace sprang into action, making the health and productivity of the mobile workforce a priority. Which is kind of what coworking is all about in the first place.

Yahoo! Disses Mobile Workforce, Becomes Even More Irrelevant

Marissa Mayer, Yahoo, mobile workforce

When’s the last time you used Yahoo! for a web search? Or visited its front page to get the day’s news? The once-popular online destination is now a ghost town. Anyone can tell that the company desperately needs an image makeover, and when they hired Marissa Mayer “First Ever Pregnant CEO Of A Fortune 500 Tech Company” last summer, many people thought they were headed for new pastures.

A 30-something herself, surely Mayer would be in touch with what young professionals want and need from a web destination. As a woman, I hoped she would help to elevate the discussion about the need for women in tech, and demonstrate how a penis and a power tie are no longer the only requirements for a successful executive.

Instead, Mayer has shown an embarrassing willingness to continue the status quo, and in the process, nailed yet another nail in the coffin of Yahoo’s irrelevance in the modern market.

A few days ago, Mayer announced through the company’s human resources arm yesterday that Yahoo employees will no longer be permitted to work remotely. “Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home,” says the memo from HR director Jackie Reses, and reprinted by Kara Swisher on last night. “We need to be one Yahoo!, and that starts with physically being together.”

Apparently, Mayer is ignorant of the plethora of studies that show flexibility improves worker productivity, morale and health. She must be oblivious to the rise of the mobile workforce and the entire coworking industry. She must also be unaware that some of the world’s most successful companies (aka Yahoo’s biggest competitors) not only acknowledge the value of telecommuting, but basically insist that their employees get out of the office.

The idea that a team is only a team when sitting right next to each other is so 20th century, it’s kind of painful to even attempt a civil rebuttal. Just ask Al, Alex W., Alex C., Medberry, Darrin and Julia (Coherians that are all successful remote employees). As HuffPo points out, “Rather than championing a blending of life and work , she is calling for an enforced and antiquated division. She is telling workers — many of whom were hired with the assurance that they could work remotely — that they’d best get their bottoms into their office chairs, or else.”

Now maybe, as some have pointed out, Yahoo is doing this as a slick way to force people out, and thus reduce overhead. While this is a valid (if not despicable) possibility, it still doesn’t stand up. Several well-known studies have shown that companies can save a pile of money by allowing employees to telecommute, and as the annual Global Coworking Survey has shown repeatedly, those who telecommute from coworking spaces see an almost instant increase in productivity, personal satisfaction, confidence, health, etc.

Mayer clearly has a lot on her plate. New mom, new CEO. Maybe she’s spread a little too thin. Maybe she’s not thinking clearly. But someone at Yahoo better get a clue, or the best and brightest are going to hit the road in search of more flexible pastures. Innovation, something Yahoo desperately needs, doesn’t only happen when you’re chained to a desk. In fact, it rarely happens when you’re chained to a desk.

Business is changing whether you like it or not, Marissa. You can either join the party, or get left behind. And right now, it looks like the bus is leaving without you.

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