Even as the freelance economy continues to grow exponentially and many startups offer their employees flexible work policies, large tech companies are turning back the clock on telecommuting.
According to an internal document obtained by AllThingsD, Hewlett-Packard is asking some employees who are accustomed to working from home to start showing up at the office every day.
“During this critical turnaround period, H-P needs all hands on deck,” the memo reads. “We now need to build a stronger culture of engagement and collaboration and the more employees we get into the office the better company we will be.”
H-P’s chief executive, Meg Whitman, is scheduled to brief analysts on the company’s turnaround efforts at a meeting in San Francisco on Wednesday. The computing giant was dropped from the Dow Jones Industrial Average last month, though its stock is up nearly 50 percent since the end of 2012.
In the document published by AllThingsD, the policy is said to apply to employees who have been working from home but have assigned desks at an H-P office, to part-time employees and to “telework employees who are near H-P sites.” All of these employees are now required to work on-site at an H-P office, unless granted a special exception — the standards for which have been tightened.
Yahoo issued an even firmer directive to its more than 11,000 employees earlier this year, saying in February that “speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home.” Starting in June, all employees who had been working from home were made instead to work in Yahoo offices.
Elsewhere in the economy, however, telecommuting is increasingly a way of life. Aided by videochat programs, cloud-based file-sharing and other tools, freelancers who work at a distance from clients are performing tasks that once would have been executed by in-house staff.
In the first half of 2013, 170,000 new businesses and 610,000 new freelancers joined Elance, one of the largest platforms for finding and soliciting independent work. There are now nearly three million registered Elancers.
Do you let your employees telecommute? Do you enjoy working from home yourself? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments below.