March 26, 2013
In February, Yahoo! decided to end its work-from-home program and bring employees back into the office by June. Being together, an internal memo claimed, is more efficient and creative:
“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.”
This move provoked the collective exasperation of many remote-working geeks, who cherish the flexibility of working from wherever.
DC startup TouchdownSpace cherishes this flexibility, too. Their marketplace lets you rent private office space in DC by the hour or day. Launched in February, their database includes over 240 offices – not open-concept coworking desks, but private spaces – and over 2,000 places with wifi, like coffee shops or libraries. As TouchdownSpace plans an expansion to New York, CEO Caleb Parker actually issued a press release inviting Yahoo! employees to work in their partner offices for free.
The way Parker sees it, remote work is not just about doing meetings in your pajamas or sleeping in. It’s about the freedom: you might stay at home one day, work in a coffee shop the next, and rent an office for a few hours to meet an investor.
He does agree with Yahoo! that organized office space can make you more productive; he just doesn’t believe it has to be one monolithic corporate headquarters.
“My generation, we want freedom from long-term commitments, we value work-life balance, we want to travel the world . . . We just want to focus on being productive and results,” says Parker, a serial entrepreneur. “Most knowledge-based work can be done from anywhere.”
And more broadly, corporations can reap the benefits. Fewer employees working in the office means cheaper rent, which means more money to hire employees. But does this outweigh the loss of creativity and productivity that Yahoo! fears? We’ll have to wait until June to find out.
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