Lowcountry company endorses working from home, bucks Yahoo decision

by Stacy

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer and her team announced in a company email that employees can no longer work from home. It read in part, "We need to be one Yahoo!, and that starts with physically being together."

The initiative ignited a nationwide debate over the merits of working from home.

Elise Darrow is an account development representative for Blackbaud. She started at the company in December; prior, she worked as an account executive for the Local Palette magazine.

Darrow could work from home at her old job. But she couldn't do her current job from home, she said.

"Sometimes I miss it," Darrow said. "I miss it because I can be in comfy clothes and not have to put on makeup and get in full dress. I don't have to talk to anybody. Sometimes I can focus better because I don't have office distractions."

But Darrow acknowledged working from home had its challenges.

"Sometimes I have home distractions, whether it's the dog or someone is ringing the doorbell," she said.

Blackbaud does have a large minority of employees who do work from home, or "remotely," as public relations manager Melanie Mathos called it. Mathos said about 400 Blackbaud employees, or 18 percent, work remotely. More employees take advantage of the option on occasion, she said.

"We don't have a strict guideline around it. It's about what works for the business, employee and customers. It's up to the employee team," she said.

Mathos said the company is equipped with a plethora of technology that enables remote collaboration. That technology includes video conference rooms, Skype, video messaging and desktop sharing, she said.

Staffing employees around the world can help attract clients, too, she said.

"Having that infrastructure where we can support remote workers, we're not limited to specific areas where we can hire and work," she said. "We have 27,000 customers around the world. Not being centralized is a plus for us because we can serve customers throughout the world," Mathos said.

Mathos also works from home sometimes. The mother to a 2-year-old daughter said her job functions don't often span a "nine-to-five" schedule. She also wants to be available to her daughter if she's sick or has a doctor's appointment.

"It's about having that flexibility. I get more done at home sometimes, focus more on projects," Mathos said.

Darrow said she knows a lot of working moms who often work from home.

"They can be there when kids get home from school," she said.

But, like many employees, Darrow understood working from home cannot be taken for granted.

"You have to earn the right to work from home. If you get your work done, you should be able to do what works best from you. If she can still hit her numbers, I don't see why that would be a problem," she said.

Still, she felt like Yahoo's message to employees was harsh.

"It sounds like the message that the company isn't interested in their employees' lives. That seems really rigid," she said.

To Darrow, Yahoo's measure bucked the trend of modern work.