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A telecommuter uses the complimentary wi-fi at Monsieur Beans in San Jose September 25, 2009. (Pauline Lubens/San Jose Mercury News)

Much ink has been spilled in recent days by commentators eager to chime in on Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer's decision to prohibit employees from working from home.

In case you didn't get the memo, Jackie Reses, Yahoo's executive vice president of people and development, recently notified employees that "communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side" noting that "speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home."

Before you could say "telecommuting," folks were up in arms. A consensus emerged in the work-at-home community, which is made up of both those who do it and the bosses who allow or even encourage it, that Yahoo had gone cuckoo.

The first set of stories centered around how the new Yahoo policy would inconvenience employees who were used to working from home and now had to find their way back to the office.

Seriously? Mayer isn't there to maintain the perfect environment for her employees to achieve maximum happiness. She has a company to run, and shareholders to answer to. She might be wrong in prohibiting people from working from home but, as CEO, she has the right to be wrong. And if the new policy turns out to be a disaster, she'll have to answer for it.


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Besides, complaining that workers are inconvenienced by a change in company policy only reinforces the sense of entitlement that plagues far too many Americans. We already knew that many people think of themselves as being entitled to a workday of short hours and high wages and a job they love that fulfills their life's passion. Now we've learned that some of them feel entitled to spend that workday at home.

Then came the inevitable debate over which worker is more productive: the one who works from home or the one who reports to an office every day.

It's a silly question. There is no one-size-fits-all answer because it depends almost entirely on the individual. Some people will be more productive from home, and others will produce more at the office. The grass is always greener somewhere else, but those of us who have done both know that there is good and bad in either scenario.

When I worked at an office -- or in my case, at three daily newspapers -- I benefited from the interaction with my co-workers. But having to put up with office politics and so many pointless meetings was a waste of time.

Now I work at home -- or sometimes from local coffee houses where all I need is a laptop and an Internet connection -- and I'm able to dedicate more time to writing, which for the most part is a solitary profession. When necessary, I can do conference calls and interviews for radio and television. I get a lot more done.

At least until the next interruption, which is where -- as much as I like working from home -- I have to admit that Mayer has a point. It's not for everyone. You need to have discipline.

Because I work from home, and my wife works at an office, it's assumed that I'm the flexible one. If errands need to be run, or a sick child needs to be picked up from school, it's on me.

You learn to balance it all, not because it's easy but because you have no choice. You juggle like a circus performer. You squeeze in things you need to do for your family while trying not to neglect obligations to your employers. On days where it doesn't all fit into place, you stay up late and get up early until you make it fit.

Then there are the payoffs. Flexibility has its privileges. Just recently, I took my 6-year-old son to the dentist to fill his first cavities. I held his hand the whole time. Well, except for those 15 minutes when I had to step out into the hallway to take a call from my editor.

It's all about your priorities. We can talk about what it "costs" to work from home. But, if you're trying to be the best parent you can be, the special moments are priceless.

Ruben Navarrette is a syndicated columnist. Contact him at ruben@rubennavarrette.com.