Last thing I’ll say about Marissa Mayer
In all seriousness, I think I actually understand the motivation for Mayer’s no-telecommuting decree. She’s neither a “Stalin of Silicon Valley,” nor some radical new form of feminist. She’s a CEO who really doesn’t care whether you like her or not because, damn it, she’s got a company to run.
And if Marissa were Michael Mayer, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation, and women wouldn’t be quite so mad at her.
When the Marissa Mayer story first broke, my first reaction was more confused than hostile. Why would the new CEO of a global tech company ban employees from working remotely? I mean, this is Yahoo, not Target. A lot of tech work doesn’t require much more than an Internet connection and a computer, so what harm is there in occasionally working from home—especially if you’re getting your work done?
There is no harm if the last part of that sentence is actually true—that employees are getting their work done. From the many articles written about Yahoo’s new policy over the last week or so, it’s become pretty clear that the problems at Yahoo aren’t really about working remotely. They’re about work not getting done and a culture that doesn’t value, reward, or even model collaborative culture or how to effectively manager workers who are remote.
So Mayer looked at the VPN logs and open parking spaces and used a blunt instrument to remove Yahoo’s least productive workers.
The problem with blunt instruments is that, well, they’re blunt. They can cause bleeding and scarring. You get where I’m going with this metaphor?
For Yahoo, this may end up being a good thing. The gauntlet: Either come in to work or find another job. You really can’t get more aggressive than that, and Mayer’s decree would annoy me if I worked at Yahoo.
Nobody wants to be told what to do, especially when the decision about where to work has been yours to make. I’d like to believe the ability to occasionally work from home to care for a sick child or await the cable guy would be supported. From what I’ve been able to find, Yahoo offers backup care, which is an amazing, company-subsidized perk that my company also provides. It means I can go in to the office when my daughter is sick because my company pays the bulk of an hourly rate for a trained childcare provider. I use it frequently, and I know how lucky I am to have it.
The great thing about my job is that I can (still) decide how I’ll get my work done. Because, at least where I work, you won’t survive for more than a review cycle if you’re not.
As an employee who generally works in the office, a policy change like the one Mayer made wouldn’t change my life very much, and I might appreciate knowing I can schedule face-to-face meetings with formerly remote colleagues. Maybe more innovation would stem from suddenly having bodies in formerly vacant offices.