Yahoo work-from-home ban is a trust issue, says Microsoft chief envisioning officer

Dave Coplin, Microsoft UK's chief envisioning officer, believes Yahoo's decision to ban staff from working at home indicates a lack of trust and will be reversed in a "few years".

Dave Coplin: chief envisioning officer for Microsoft UK
Dave Coplin: chief envisioning officer for Microsoft UK

Speaking at the annual IDM lecture, Coplin said there was a "massive problem" with the place of work in today’s society that does not need to exist in the days of smartphones.

Coplin said he did not want to make judgements about Yahoo, but did speculate that the decision by Yahoo chief executive Marissa Mayer to ban the entire company from working from home boiled down to a trust issue.

He said: "That isn’t about a disbelief in the values of flexible working, it is more indicative of a trust issue. Marissa Meyer has come in and said 'I want to get control and understand how this thing works'.

"I guarantee you in a few years' time that they will actually go back to flexible working. I've worked for organisations that want bums on seats – it is a classic sign there is an issue of trust."

Coplin, who is the author of a "Business Reimagined: Why work isn’t working and what you can do about it", argued that modern-day companies are still living in the past when it comes to their work practices.

He said: "For centuries we have swarmed around the infrastructure as a society. In the mid- to late nineties, if you wanted to use the internet, the only place you could do that with any reasonable bandwidth would be the office. We are acclimatised with needing to be in the office in order to work."

However, Coplin pointed out the way companies operate should change now most people have more computing power in their smartphone than used to be in a desktop PC five years ago.

Coplin concluded: "We also have more pervasive mobile broadband and yet as a society we continue to swarm around the infrastructure."

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