To work from home or not to work from home: an Inscape debate

Inscape hosted a group of senior industry professionals at its New York showroom to debate the “no-work-from-home” memo recently sent by Yahoo to its employees.

Yahoo’s new policy sparked such a flurry of blogs and discussions in the design industry that Inscape decided to gather leading workspace experts to examine the issues. The debate was moderated by Leigh Stringer, drector of Innovation & Research at HOK. The debaters were Steven South, associate designer at Perkins+Will; Phil Kirschner, America’s head of Workplace Strategy & Innovation at Credit Suisse; Justin Mardex, strategy director at Gensler; Yelena Kokritsky, interior designer at HOK; Claire Griffin, associate of Workplace Strategy at HOK;  and Amanda Kross, Workplace consultant at Brightspot Strategy.

“Yahoo’s no-work-from-home memo has ignited a maelstrom of reaction from diverse sectors,” says Jamie Feuerborn, director, Workspace Strategy. “We are delighted to be able to offer a forum to explore timely topics like this that affect our industry.” Designers wishing to join the conversation are welcome to visit Inscape’s Workplace Salon Group on LinkedIn. The event video can be viewed there.

It was a lively debate that touched on many topics including trust, productivity, employee  choice, flexibility, technology and change management. “It was really exciting to see so many smart workplace experts talking about a topic that we all care about, and sharing ideas and warm-hearted stories about how their clients are wrestling with some of these issues,” says moderator Leigh Stringer of HOK.


Pro-Yahoo Arguments

– Yahoo is struggling and needs a big change to get back on track. The principals believe its old work-from-home policy isn’t working.

– Collaboration is most effective when it’s face to face and this is particularly important for Yahoo right now. Bringing people together will reconnect them to the company’s goals, culture and increase motivation to succeed.

Anti-Yahoo Arguments

– The policy suggests Yahoo’s lack of trust in its employees. Knowledge workers shouldn’t need to be “managed by sight” to be productive.

– Technical work requires focus and the office, for some, can be just too distracting to get things done.

– Workers want flexibility and choice, especially the kind of worker Yahoo seeks to attract and retain.

While the group didn’t resolve the issue, the debate did influence attendees: 75 per cent of the designers polled before the debate were against the Yahoo memo; by the end of the debate, the percentage had increased to 90 per cent.


Inscape makes smart workspaces – thoughtfully designed spaces that perform beyond expectations. For over a century, we have collaborated with our clients to provide customized solutions based on their individual needs. Our meticulously engineered system, storage and wall products provide unparalleled flexibility to create unique applications at a lower cost of ownership. Easy reconfiguration and seamless integration with other products means our smart applications will work today and tomorrow. For more info, visit .