In what is a reverse trend, Yahoo has decided to cancel their workforce's work-at-home option, requiring the 18,000-person staff to report to their offices and cubicles every day, instead of allowing them to telecommute, as they have been for some time.
Granted, Yahoo has been struggling for some time as Google, LinkedIn, Facebook and other major social media services have been eroding the market share of the one-time leader in the search engine world. And, it makes sense that the new CEO wants to see that he has a staff that really puts in the time and more that will be needed to bring Yahoo back to its position as one of the leading search stops on the Internet.
But, here's a slightly different take on this. One can tell if a person has logged in to an account and is doing work at home, whether on a laptop or desktop machine, as all one has to do is go to certain areas of key routers and look at the logs of each machine's address and then to walk through some of the processes that the UID (user identification designator) has been using while logged in from home. If, on the other hand, the employee is now required to report to the office, he or she will have to do it in or on something.
Given the way of the world and the roadway system in California, one either needs a:
To get to the office. Each of these modes bears significant personal costs for the staff, since it quite unlikely that Yahoo will fund each worker's commuting gasoline. (Here's a suggestion that might keep that cost down considerably and that would be to run a series of 12 to 15-passenger vans from specific areas where the cost of the gasoline can be split a number or ways, keeping the cost of the commute down, while also keeping the carbon footprint down.)
Still, if we assume the workforce at Yahoo to be about 18,000 and if we assume that, like most people who will be responding to the new edict from the CEO, the workforce will be responding with individual vehicles, we can also assume two things:
Individuals will feel this in the pocketbooks
Gasoline use spike daily as the extra number of cars hit the road whether they are fully electric and use the power grid to charge overnight (they are still using hydrocarbons, just when the net is underused), hybrids or super-mileage machines.
Let's assume that like most people the worker wants to be able to come and go as he or she pleases during the day or that the worker has to report at different hours because they may be involved in a software build or the development of refinements to software that are important and their work will take them many extra hours. And, then there are the inevitable face-to-face meetings where issues are said to be decided but which are often not because people just can't agree, but they are still required to attend.
Given this, let's say that of the 18,000-person workforce (one estimate) employed fulltime by Yahoo that there will be 14,000 vehicles on the road and that the average mileage of the workforce fleet will be roughly 20 mpg (from highs in the single numbers to other highs as high as 40 mpg or more).
Let's further stipulate that the average gas tank size is 20 gallons (many vehicles have tanks that are considerably larger and others are much smaller, in the 14-gallon range) and that each vehicle will require at least one fillup per week – if not a second – and that the average national price of gas is around $4. We will find that the CEO's dream of an on-campus workforce may not be economically practical.
Assuming each staffer does the the maximum 20-gallon fillup per week at $4 per gallon or $80, which also assumes the vehicle will arrive on fumes at the service area, it means that each worker is now facing a new hit to his or her wallet of $320 per month. We're not even assuming full parking lots here, either as we are saying that 14,000 people will drive, usually with one person in the vehicle, so that the figures will look like this.
There will be 14,000 vehicles going to Yahoo's corporate office, each of which will be burning an extra $320 worth of gasoline per month. This will put a strain of $4,480,000 on each worker's budget which could mean workers will ask for raises and, if they aren't successful, they may leave for a different firm.
Corporately, this means the fuel costs will be add nearly $54 million to overall company worker expenses. That's not exactly chump change. It is a huge expense that everyone feels and which should be considered before this is finalized.