I have real-life experiences in working remotely. I and my colleague, which means 100% of our workforce, worked remotely for more than a year until recently. I came to office everyday, but he worked out of his home. We only met once a week.
I have also worked with people in other countries: a designer in Belgium, another in Canada (was it Russia?), a coder in India, etc., never meeting them in person.
Here are some thoughts on the remote work.
- Remote work is likely to increase. It has a lot of benefits, including efficiency (your commuting time), costs (your office) and increased choice for employees (think working moms).
- It's a new way of working, but people won't need as much learning curve as some think. A lot of getting used to will simply come from using social media. In a sense, Facebook is a great training ground for remote work.
- This is probably the hardest to accept for traditionalists, but the loss of productivity is not so clear. It sometimes increases productivity. When people are around you, you tend to communicate verbally even when clear written communication is better. And you can focus on working on your priorities, as you are not bugged by your boss passing by.
And the collaboration tools became very good, as well as the our devices and network infrastructure.
- There is some loss in culture. Emotional binding is probably the most worried. I think we also learn to minimize this from using social media. Some Facebook friends are very close, even when not meeting in person for a long time. Also, the video conferencing, not very practical even a few years ago, is much better (than messaging or voice-only call) at delivering personal touch. And as a company, you have the additional advantage of forcing people to come to the office once in a while.
All considered, I believe remote work will increase. However, I fully understand what +Marissa Mayer did. I don't think she does not like remote work per se. I think she wants to restore the work discipline. If people abused remote work, I might do the same thing. This is probably a short-term shock therapy, and Yahoo probably needs to develop a newer remote work model in the long term.