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TheStreet Open House

Yahoo Looks Wrong About Telecommuting Ban

Stocks in this article: BBYYHOO

NEW YORK (MainStreet) -- There was a time not too long ago when employers didn't want anything to do with remote work or telecommuting.

Last year, Yahoo Chief Executive Marissa Mayer made a big splash with a ban on work-from-home jobs at her company, even though telecommuting was wildly popular with Yahoo staffers.

In an in-house memo last February, here's what Mayer had to say about her decision to curb telecommuting:

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.

Yahoo wasn't alone. Best Buy also came out last year against work-from-home jobs, banning them from the company.

But those firms seem to be outliers. Most U.S. companies are embracing telecommuting jobs, noting they don't lead to a decline in worker production, keep employees happier and more likely to stay on the job and save money on office expenses and help the environment with less cars and trucks on the road.

Here's a list of the top 100 telecommuting companies, from Flexjobs.com. The numbers show work-from-home trends are way up on a year-to-year basis and that Yahoo and Best Buy are fighting an uphill battle in fighting the work-from-home trend.

According to FlexJobs, remote jobs grew by 118% from 2012 to last year, and in some big-name industries and at companies such as Xerox, Aetna and Apple.

"The growth in remote jobs since 2007, when I founded FlexJobs, is amazing," says Sara Sutton Fell, chief executive at the remote-jobs placement services company. "I strongly believed that we were tapping into a promising market back then, but it's thrilling to see the increase in both volume and variety of top companies integrating telecommuting options as part of their workplace culture. This year is looking to be another big growth year in terms of remote job opportunities."

Sutton Fell sees robust growth in a handful of sectors where remote work is a booming trend (shown in percentage of growth from 2012 to last year) and likely to continue: retail (85.04%); travel and hospitality (68.18%); medical and health (64.16%); insurance (51.78%); and bilingual sales and service (49.43%).

The money is good, too, for work-at-home professionals.

FlexJobs says 75% of telecommuters earn more than $65,000 as well as saving on transportation costs, thanks to advancements in hardware and software that make telecommuting easier than ever and avoid physical trips back and forth to an office.

That said, working from home isn't for everyone.

You might miss the office camaraderie, and there is something to be said for being face to face with employers when they're looking to dish out promotions.

But if you like the idea of sliding down the bannister to your workplace in jeans and T-shirt, telecommuting is for you. Your employer may know it too -- if not now, soon.

"Not only has technology made it possible to work outside of a traditional office building, but now there are so many tools available that help increase effective communication," says Sutton Fell. "Smart companies are embracing remote work because of its productivity and cost benefits, and because it's truly possible to have a cohesive, collaborative, and successful remote team."

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