There’s a new Evil Queen in town and her name is Marissa Mayer. When she took the job we all celebrated that a pregnant woman in her 30’s was declared CEO of Yahoo. It should have stopped there, but no, she became the poster child for working mothers. Where she went, so went all mothers, or at least on the internet. When she came back to work after two weeks you would have thought she told mothers to give birth in conference rooms and go back to work. She was actually doing what worked best for HER and the struggling company she took on. Well, she’s done it again! She has decided that Yahoo employees can no longer work from home. “Epic Fail, Retrograde, Anti-Family and Self Defeating” are only some of the headlines you will find of the 1,373,000 posts when you Google Ms. Mayer. I think people picture her in her office thinking of ways to blow up the American Family and bring us back to the Mad Men years. Really?!
Did you know that Apple doesn’t allow telecommuting? And that Google’s CFO Patrick Pichette says “How many people telecommute at Google?..As few as possible….There is something magical about spending the time together, about noodling on ideas, about asking at the computer ‘What do you think of this?’ These are the magical moments that we think at Google are immensely important in the development of your company, of your own personal development and (of) building much stronger communities.” As a matter of fact most Silicon Valley companies entice employees to spend as much time at work as possible. Steve Jobs was known be hard on his employees and we now celebrate his process. “My job is not to be easy on people. My job is to make them better.”- Steve Jobs (CNNMoney/Fortune, 2008)
After College, I worked for an HR Company where we worked at client locations during the day. We had this great loft corporate office, the newest computers (Macs) and there was always food and beer. Our mostly young staff would meet back after a full day, eat and work on our marketing and paperwork together. It was a great place to be. We averaged 12 hours a day and we didn’t burn out. They created a culture where we wanted to be at work and we fed off of each other. We talked about what worked at our different facilities and developed new ideas. If we would have gone home and dialed in, I imagine we would have submitted our paperwork for the day and went on with our lives. That would have been great for Work Life Balance but not so great for the company.
Marissa Mayer was not hired to be the Work Life Balance Representative, she’s a CEO trying to save a company. If you need your people to put out a fire, you need them around you. Not at home, not at Starbucks, but bouncing ideas off each other and making changes. Since she took over in July of 2012 Yahoo stock has gone up 25%. To turn the company around she needs to try something new, the current strategy is not working fast enough.
“To become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side”-Mayer wrote in the email to employees. Will this be a difficult transition for the people who are used to this perk? Absolutely, and some may wind up leaving Yahoo. Is it possible that Ms. Mayer may reverse this policy later? Sure, she may find that it does not work and some of her best people may need to work from home. She’s been a good leader, which is why she is in this position and we applauded her accomplishment. Good Leaders try great things and they also reverse them if they don’t work. Should we give it a chance and see if it works before we declare the Apocalypse of Work Life Balance and the Family?
The Queen would like to know what percentage of your employees work from home on a regular basis?
For more opinions on this topic:
Back to the Stone Age – Jenna Goudreau
A Work-at-Home mom defends Yahoo’s Mayer – Amanda Enayati
Although I’m a sole proprietor (who outsources a bunch of stuff, in order to stay that way!), I find that my productivity is always at a higher level when I’m in the “real” office, as opposed to the home one.
I agree. I think that’s part of the reason even the Starbucks are popular. People enjoy being around other people.