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PJs or pinstripes? The tradeoffs of tele-work

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Melanie Stetson Freeman/Staff

(Read caption) Employees at 2U, a distributor of online courses, enjoy the togetherness of office work in New York.

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Who would have thought that well into the second decade of the 21st century water-cooler seminars and hallway chitchat would be held up as the unique value proposition of an office? But thanks to Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer and other managers who have newfound qualms about telecommuting, the serendipitous conversations and informal collaborations that take place in an office – sometimes also called slacking and breeze-shooting – are being touted as the secret sauce of business. 

There is something to that. Silicon Valley in California; Kendall Square in Cambridge, Mass.; and other tech incubation districts are famous for their pizza parties, foosball tables, and networking mixers. Proximity is the point. But at the same time, technology and demographics are driving telecommuting. Which trend will win? 

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