Marissa Mayer's ban on telecommuting "smart, not ruthless," business analyst says

(CBS News) According to a leaked internal memo,Yahoo will not allow employees to work from home as of June, 2013. The memo reads in part: "Being a Yahoo isn't just about your day-to-day job, it's about the interactions and experiences that are only possible in our offices."

While the move has sparked outrage among working parents and business leaders -- Virgin tycoon Richard Branson tweeted he was perplexed by the decision -- others see it as an attempt to revive a corporate culture that has lost its edge.

CBS News contributor and analyst Mellody Hobson said Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has "a real turnaround on her hands," and said the new edict is "smart," not "ruthless."

"She's looking at the situation saying 'I need innovation to change this company.' And ones of the things that drives innovation is collaboration. People working next to each other, shoulder to shoulder, coming up with ideas," Hobson explained Tuesday on "CBS This Morning."

"She's saying you can't build a culture via email," Hobson said of Mayer's effort to bolster the Yahoo community. "She needs these people in the office."

Hobson went on to address common misconceptions about telecommuters, saying "The average person who telecommutes is a 40-year-old male. We think of it as a stay-at-home mom," she said, but added that that is only one type of telecommuter.

Turning to policies at other innovators in the tech and media industries, Hobson cited Facebook's reported use of telecommuting and said generally in Silicon Valley that "many of the companies ... tend to be very flexible." However, she added that Apple, widely considered to be "the most successful innovator of our generation" does not allow telecommuting.

"Everyone is saying this is going to be terrible for her to recruit and retain people," Hobson said before adding that Apple has "done it very differently and they've still won."

Still, Mayer's new rule could mean growing pains for the company's bottom line and changes for working parents. "Estimates are 30 million people telecommute at some point during the year. Those working parents are saying, 'This flexibility allows me to tend to my children,'" Hobson said.

She added that companies have found that telecommuting "reduces their overhead costs" and "allows them to have a more diverse workforce," but in the case of Yahoo and other companies, "a lot of things have been tried, and companies are pulling them back."