While I have seen both good and bad from working frequently with remote workers, I can tell you that it only takes a very few people who abuse the situtation to make management decide to end it. While flexibility is nice to have as a worker, when it starts interfering with the ability of others who need to talk to you to get in touch, then the remote working will go away. I suspect this is what happened at Yahoo.
How can you abuse the situtation? First by not being available by email, phone or IM. Yes you may think you are being more productive by turning these things off, but all you are doing is making your coworkers and boss angry. If you are remote and people can't get ahold of you then in their minds you are not working.
Next thing I have seen go wrong is the whole, "this makes it easier for me as a mother because I can pick up my kids etc." thing. Unfortunately what tends to happen is the worker is spending all her time watching the kids and not working and production is significantly less than it was when the person was in the office. So the moms who are complaining about Yahoo's new policy are using exactly the wrong arument for a manager to listen to if they have expereinced this in their own remote workers. I don't care if it is easier to take care of your kids, you should NOT be doing that when you are supposed to be working. Period.
Of course Moms aren't the only ones who slack off when working at home. It is really easy to get caught up in the tv or games or the Internet (especially since you can have an entirely different computer to play on than the one you are connected to work from) or even housework. I have seen people who were forbidden to work from home whose output doubled or tripled when forced to come into the office. It really doesn't take too many of those people before a manager decides it isn't a great idea.
If you like the idea of remote working and you want to keep it where you work then be sure to do the following:
- Make sure you are as productive or more productive than when you were
in the office.
- Make sure you are available when people try to contact you.