It’s 2013. Public infrastructure continues to age and deteriorate. Public transit systems are continually undervalued and underfunded. Day care, food and gasoline costs are skyrocketing.
On the other hand, innovative technology continues to evolve.
Smartphones and tablets are taking over. 80% of the population of North American uses the Internet daily.
Considering all of the above, I was shocked to read the recent news story about a leaked internal memo ordering all Yahoo employees to find a way to get into an office by June.
While conservative, high-powered executive Meg Whitman is moving forward and blogging about her public and active support of civil marriage for same-sex couples, Marissa Mayer seems to be moving backwards in her thinking.
When I first read about Mayer being hired at Yahoo, I was excited.
Here is a woman executive in the spotlight, not afraid to discuss working while pregnant and her experience in a male-dominated industry while juggling the new adventure of motherhood.
Just because she is a working mother, however, doesn’t mean she supports other working mothers (or parents, or anyone else needing some flexibility). I should’ve known.
While Mayer has the means to install a nursery in her office and keep several nannies on hand, she is apparently not supportive of flex-time work arrangements and different ways of thinking about work.
Here is what Yahoo should have done instead of making this silly, across-the-board punishment (let’s just call it what it really what it is):
1) Empathize with the reality that most of us exist in.
Work/life balance is a challenge for ALL of us – from Sheryl Sandberg to the local bag checkout clerk.
Increased pressure to work late and arrive early, combined with cut backs, layoffs, furloughs – we are all stressed to the max about keeping our jobs while fitting in quality time with our families.
Didn’t Mayer read Anne-Marie Slaughter’s incredible piece in The Atlantic about “having it all”? Certainly this decision will move us further away from that possibility.
2) Think about the example you are setting for the rest of the world.
Yahoo’s decision sends a disturbing signal to other companies.
If a woman-led, Internet-focused company can’t make working from home succeed, then every company seemingly has an excuse.
3) Don’t build a nursery in your office.
… without offering day care options to your workers. This should just go without saying.
4) Provide adequate training and improve accountability mechanisms.
Who are these mysterious Yahoo employees working remotely and cashing a regular pay check without any regulation or check-in from a supervisor?
This seems like a bigger issue with Yahoo managers and their reporting procedures, not a problem with remote work itself.
5) Just call this what it is – cost cutting.
I understand that eliminating remote work options will cut the fat and cause more than a few employees to leave Yahoo.
But to lie about the reasons behind this decision is to decrease employee morale, and it’s just cowardly.
Obviously, remote work is not an option for all industries and all employees. Walmart employees can’t work from home, nor can home health aides and the like. But for those where it is an option, leaders need to embrace new technologies in order to make workers happier and therefore more productive.
I will close with a great quote from Matt Mullenweg, who leads Automattic, the company that controls WordPress (where 120 employees work from their homes in 26 countries).
“The center of gravity for an organization should be as close to what they make as possible,” Mullenweg said. “If you make cars, you need people in the factory. If you breed horses, be in the stable. If you make the Internet, live on the Internet, and use all the freedom and power it gives you.”
What do you think? Do you work from home? Was Marissa Mayer right in her decision? Leave your thoughts in the comments. Thanks for reading!