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Inside TechStars Seattle

Do you get more done at home or the office? That’s the debate flying around tech circles these days after Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer issued a memo requesting that Yahoos spend their days working in the office, rather than at home.

In a day and age when mobile technologies bring work to individuals’ fingertips at nearly every waking moment, Mayer’s edict certainly set off a fervent debate.

Mayer wrote:

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.

That sounds great, but Reuters reports on a Bureau of Labor Statistics study which showed that telecommuting “seems to boost productivity, decrease absenteeism, and increase retention” and a Cisco study which found that telecommuting saved the company $277 million each year.

Several tech companies around the Seattle area encourage employees to work from the office, but they don’t have a set policy per se. At Amazon.com, for example, we’re told that the work-from-home policy depends on the department. Microsoft also has allowed for more telecommuting in recent years.

Startups tend to offer more flexibility, but the issue also resonates with small companies where speed and quick decisions matter.

Now, granted, I am writing this post while laying on my couch in my basement … in my boxer shorts. (That’s just the life of a tech journalist). I certainly get more writing done while operating solo at home (writing late in the evening or early in the morning). But there are certainly benefits to getting the clan together, one of the reasons we also have office space (cutting down on countless emails back and forth).

So, what do you think? Are tech workers more productive in the office or the home? It certainly depends on the type of work you do, but let us know in the comments what works for your team and what you’ve learned from it. (Also, I am going to hear productivity guru David Allen speak this evening, and I’ll plan on asking him what he thinks of the Yahoo decision).

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