There’s nothing struggling Internet portal Yahoo has done in years to rival the reaction to this week’s leaked memo announcing the beginning of the end of tele-working in favor of employees’ “physically being together.”

To become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side,” the note said. “That is why it is critical that we are all present in our offices.”

The memo continues:

“Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings.”

Arguably, quite true. And — frankly — quite familiar. Google spoke to similar objectives just a day or two ago as the driving force behind its new workspace design efforts. Why then, would a similar principle ignite such a furor at Yahoo?

Clearly it’s not the objective, but the approach that’s the problem. Both companies are speaking to the awesome potential of accidental collaboration, the “casual collisions of the workforce”. But only Yahoo is making such presence — with its potential for impromptu innovation in the workspace — mandatory, in the process bucking an emerging trend that has high-tech knowledge workers doing their voodoo wherever, whenever, providing it gets the job done.

Personally I’m fascinated by this new star-crossed connection between Internet giants version one-dot-oh and two-dot-oh (and search engine players number 2 and number 1, respectively). Professionally, I’m deeply vested in the results of such work / life experiments as I’m at this very moment searching for a new home far from my employer, preparing to begin the next phase of my career as a tele-working guy.

I’m staking my future on the theory that remote workers can collaborate, communicate and innovate every bit as effectively and fully as the present-in-the-office workforce… and with the right bits of technology at hand, maybe more so.

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