Monday Bulletin: Telecommuting Turnaround at Yahoo; Sequestration Cuts To Come

Telecommuting Trend Turnaround at Yahoo!

At a time when many Silicon Valley tech firms are battling each other to attract and retain the best talent, the decision by Yahoo! Inc. to end its telecommuting program may prove to be shortsighted. The move, which was widely reported this morning after a leaked memo made its way to the press, stems from the belief that “speed and quality are sacrificed when people work from home.” Yahoo’s new CEO Marissa Mayer is determined to shake things up in an effort to turn the struggling company’s fortunes around. “To become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side. That is why it is critical that we are all present in our offices. 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. We need to be one Yahoo!, and that starts with physically being together,” the memo reads. According to John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., there is some wisdom behind the memo’s sentiment. “Yahoo is definitely in a fourth-and-long situation, so it needs to try new tactics. There is a collaborative advantage to having all of your employees in the office. However, there is also an advantage in having the best and brightest tech workers on your payroll. The question is whether this move will result in an exodus among the company’s top talent,” he said. Could the move to end telecommuting backfire for Yahoo? What are the pros and cons of telecommuting programs? Will other companies follow Yahoo’s lead and end or rein in telecommuting options?

Sequester Could Send Government Job Cuts Soaring

Will failure to reach a budget deal by March 1 ignite another round of government job cuts? Automatic spending cuts totaling $85 billion are scheduled to take effect Friday and will impact federal agencies, including transportation and defense, as well as cut aid to states. Instead of finding a solution, Democrats and Republicans are arguing the overall impact of the cutbacks, with Democrats taking a “sky-is-falling” stance while Republicans argue that the cuts, which amount to less than 3% of the $3.5 trillion budget, will barely be felt by most Americans. The truth, as usual, probably lies somewhere in the middle. “The thousands of federal workers forced to take unpaid furloughs will certainly feel the pinch in their annual budgets. Meanwhile, state governments will have to pass along the cuts by eliminating jobs. In Missouri, for example, the automatic budget cuts will slash about $12 million in school funding and will put about 160 teaching jobs at risk. That may not seem like a lot of jobs in the big scheme of things, but it’s everything to the 160 teachers who could ultimately find themselves unemployed due to political gamesmanship,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. Last year, announced job cuts by government agencies fell to 19,128 after reaching 142,503 in 2011 and 183,064 in 2010. What will be the overall economic impact of automatic budget cuts that kick in March 1? Will automatic budget cuts send government job cuts to 2010-2011 levels? Are consumers and businesses spending enough now to hold up the economy if government spending declines?

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