Regus CEO critical of Yahoo staff recall
Mark Dixon, chief executive of international office provider Regus, has rubbished claims by head of Yahoo, Marissa Mayer, that a successful business model requires staff to be present in the office at all times.
Much has been made of the ‘working from home’ debate in recent weeks, with companies polarising their positions on whether the option to work flexibly increases productivity, or curtails creativity.
Whilst tech giants Google and Yahoo now aim to provide everything an employee could require on site, recent statistics suggest that up to 90% of UK businesses now support flexible working structures.
An internal statement from Yahoo’s HR department - leaked to various press sources last week - aimed to justify the recall of the company’s staff to their main headquarters, saying: “we need to be one Yahoo, and that starts with physically being together."
“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.”
Mark Dixon, whose company specialise in providing flexible office capacity, was quick to offer his opinion, labelling Mayers’ statement “absolutely wrong”. He pointed to the pre-tax profits of Regus in 2012, which recorded a gargantuan 72% increase to £85.1m, as proof of the growing success of flexible office models.
He said: “Most of her competitors are our customers and they are embracing flexible working. Maybe when you are in a turnaround situation getting people together is not a bad thing, but there is a whole range of software out there which helps people communicate.
"It was a very strange business move. It is important that you get people together, but you don't need them together every day. One of our biggest customers is Google, but you won't find a company that spends more on getting people together as a team."
The network of Regus business centres has grown incrementally over the past few years, with the latest acquisition – the MWB Business Exchange London portfolio – expected to bring the total number of centres up to 2,000 by the close of 2014.
The company is set to add 350 centres this year alone, and has begun rolling out two new flexible models for inclusion in external corporate environments, such as office provision retail outlets and motorway service stations, as well as new flexible business lounges in a number of established Regus offices.
Having witnessed an instantaneous uptake for these new office models, Dixon believes: “These locations are proving very popular because there are a lot of people out there going up and down the highways and they want to work productively."
Mayer has received criticism for the manner in which facilities to enable staff to stay on site were inducted into Yahoo’s business model, with features such as a nursery appearing shortly after the business magnate had given birth to a baby boy.
The decision to recall Yahoo’s 11,500 staff members has also been labelled elitist, with commentators deriding the idea that such a work-life balance could be achieved amongst the lower echelons of the company.
Katherine Reynolds Lewis, a commentator with CNN Money, stated last year: “On the other hand, her decision seems emblematic of a workaholic culture that leaves too little time for family or even personal health, preventing either men or women from ‘having it all.’
“Could Mayer be setting unrealistic expectations for young women hoping to follow in her footsteps? Maybe she's an outlier - or making a mistake - and shouldn't be held up as an example that mere mortals should emulate.”