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Yahoo Inc Chief Executive Marissa Mayer attends the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, in this January 25, 2013 file photo. Mayer's decision to ban telecommuting sparked outrage around the country, but left many in Silicon Valley wondering what the fuss was all about. (PASCAL LAUENER/REUTERS)
Yahoo Inc Chief Executive Marissa Mayer attends the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, in this January 25, 2013 file photo. Mayer's decision to ban telecommuting sparked outrage around the country, but left many in Silicon Valley wondering what the fuss was all about. (PASCAL LAUENER/REUTERS)

Marissa Mayer and the Yahoo work-from-home debate: But what about dads? Add to ...

News that Yahoo will ban all employees from working from home in June elicited much outrage on behalf of mothers everywhere: Why had CEO Marissa Mayer pulled “the ladder up behind her” on working moms?

Now, concerned dads are chiming in too.

Time magazine’s James Poniewozik says the move is as much about women as it is about men, particularly if they are parents, and he’s hoping to extend the dialogue around work balance to dudes.

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“Flexible work is a men’s issue, a women’s issue and a kids’ issue,” writes the TV critic, who works from home part of the week in a bid to restore some semblance of work-life balance and to spend more time with his children.

“After my first son was born, I made a deal to start working from home at least part of the week. Part of the decision was emotional: I just didn’t want to be one of those dads I’d seen, spending the week in a Midtown box going to meetings and making late magazine closes, all for the knowledge that my salary paid for a baby I’d only see asleep or on the weekends,” Poniewozik wrote.

When it came to the Yahoo announcement, he suggests the heavy-handed focus on moms arose from persistent stereotypes that suggest men just love the office and that “a stay-at-home father is a curiosity, an asterisk, a comic-relief figure who gets points just for trying.

A refresher: Yahoo recently announced it would forbid employees from working remotely. A leaked human resources memo read: “Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people and impromptu team meetings. Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home. We need to be one Yahoo, and that starts with physically being together.”

It’s a somewhat regressive move at a time when many companies are permitting more telecommuting to cut costs and even to reduce traffic. Still, as Yahoo’s memo suggestions, suspicions linger around just how productive employees are when they aren’t tethered inside a Panopticon-style office where managers can keep an eye out, in theory.

Never mind that working from home shaves off hours in commute times and pained watercooler talk with chatty co-workers, not to mention the daily shower/primp session before heading into the office. That goes for moms, dads and child-free women and men.

Follow on Twitter: @ZosiaBielski

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