Arguments for Remote Workers

The buzz after Yahoo!'s come-to-the-office email hasn't died down yet. Business Insider has jumped on the critic-wagon, suggesting that Yahoo! take an approach similar to Google's.

In an article with the descriptive title, "Marissa Mayer Should Have Used Google's Excellent Argument To Bring Remote  Workers Back," Business Insider reminds us that Google was Marissa Mayer's employer before she joined Yahoo!. Although she may have been inspired by the Google culture to encourage remote employees to come to the office, she missed some of the obvious persuasive arguments, according to writer Max Nisen.

Nisen highlights two differentiators between Yahoo!'s recent message and how Googlers are encouraged to and rewarded for coming to the office. In addition to emphasizing the "magical moments" that Google employees share when they are in the same space, Google offers significant benefits for employees to be in the same physical location: "great food, amazing offices, and great amenities."

Nisen also suggests that Yahoo! could sell the tax benefits to employees, particularly how the benefits save employees money. Perks offered in the office are considered fringe benefits and are not taxable income. He points to DealBook's Victor Fleischer's assessment of the tax benefits of working in an office:

"Suppose Abe works at Yahoo, makes $150,000  a year and is taxed at an effective 33 percent rate, thereby paying $50,000 in taxes.  Bridget, by contrast, makes $120,000 and also enjoys $30,000 of untaxed fringe  benefits.

"Bridget's tax liability is only $40,000 (33  percent of $120,000), meaning that she pays $10,000 (or 20 percent) less in  taxes, yet received the same economic compensation as Abe."

Yahoo! could have done a better job of communicating its message. This could have saved some backlash for the company and perhaps have clarified the intent-and the benefits-of having employees come to an office.

For more about the benefits and challenges of remote workers, read Cornell ILR's summary.

Image source.

Discussion Starters:

  • How, if at all, do you think this suggested approach would have helped Yahoo! with the initial announcement?
  • Other than the initial response of "This isn't a broad industry view on working from home. This is about what is right for Yahoo right now," we have heard little from Yahoo! since the controversy. What, if anything, should the company say at this point?