Nightly News   |  March 03, 2013

Telecommuting getting second thoughts

Nearly 10 percent of Americans work from home at least one day a week, a practice that is getting another look with Yahoo!’s decision to no longer allow employees to telecommute. NBC’s Rehema Ellis reports.

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>>> it's become a cornerstone of modern work life, more and more companies over the years have made it possible for employees to do at least some of their work from home . but that debate over -- was renewed this week after yahoo!'s new ceo ordered everyone back to the office. and she is not the first to scale back. nbc's rehema ellis takes a look at this issue.

>> reporter: melissa potfin has what a lot of workers want. the mother of three is nearly one of 10% of americans who work from home at least one day a week.

>> having the ability to, on occasion, works from home allows me the simple flesh showers life, getting the kids on and off the bus you being home to help them with their homework, all while balancing a career.

>> reporter: which is why potvin, who works for a tech company, was disappointing to hear that yahoo! was ordering all of its telecommunicating workers back to the office n a statement, yahoo! said "this isn't a broad industry view on working from home this is about what is right for yahoo! right now."

>> if yahoo! needed to cut a lot of fat and it can get a bunch of people who will now walk rather than go through massive layoffs, this may go down as a very interesting management move.

>> reporter: but critics are particularly dismayed by yahoo!'s decision, since its new ceo, marissa mire, made headlines as the first pregnant woman to take over a fortune 500 company.

>> well, i have been a mom now for four and a half months and i have been ceo for seven months. i would say i wouldn't have missed a minute of either experience.

>> reporter: but having the best of both worlds could become harder for her employees now. two-thirds of companies surveyed say they allow workers work remotely, nearly twice as many as in 2005 . and advocates say it's with good reason.

>> if employees have flexibility you they are in better physical and mental health . they are more engaged. they are more likely to want their organization to succeed. they are more likely to want to stay.

>> reporter: melissa potvin says that's exactly how she feels.

>> my company is telling me they trust me, they believe in me and they know at the end of the day , i'm going to do my job and get the job done.

>> reporter: and she hopes other companies give their workers the flexibility she's had. rehema ellis you nbc news, new york.