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.
Whoa, girl! You really know how to drop a bomb. Everyone is still talking about that HR memo. I’m sure you’re like, Hey can we move on and start making some money now, people?!
I’m totally with you, Ms. Mayer. Totally! I mean, we really need to tighten things up around here, get those lazy butts in seats. I’m a little bummed that my view of the parking lot will now be blocked by the guy across the hall—the one with the sweet window office—who hasn’t been in for the last six months. But if innovation comes without access to direct sunlight, then I won’t complain. I am ALL in!
Let me also just say that I think those who’ve dubbed you “the Stalin of Silicon Valley” are completely out of line. I mean, that’s an insult to Stalin. He was way, way worse than you are. And, really, is being forced to work in your office really like the Great Purge? At least we get free lunch at Yahoo. Am I right? If we were face-to-face right now, we could fist-bump to that one.
Now that we’ll all be in the office, we can fist-bump all the time!
There’s just one thing I wanted to ask you about. It’s a family issue. And I know how important family is to you because you built an on-site nursery for your son—who, by the way, is adorable and SO smart. Just like his mom!
So here goes: I’m a solo single parent. I have a 6-year-old daughter who I adore probably as much as you adore your son. You’ve totally inspired me to become a CEO, though, so I can bring her to work and have her privately schooled on site while I work.
But until that happens (you can laugh at THAT idea now!), I sometimes have to work from home when she’s sick. She’s a pretty healthy kid, though, so I promise it won’t happen too much. Seriously, I can count on one hand how many times she’s missed school in the last two years. And as long as her fever isn’t too high, I can usually dose her with Tylenol long enough to make it into the office for a few hours before the school nurse calls demanding that I pick her up.
I will definitely use the company’s backup child care option, but—and I hate to complain—it gets expensive. And when yours is the only income, child care really adds up, not to mention sometimes a sick kid just wants to be with her mom.
Also, I occasionally volunteer in her classroom. Research shows that kids whose parents participate in their learning do better in school. I know you’re a data-driven decision-making kind of gal, so you can appreciate that one. Virtual fist-bump!
And just so you know, I’m a pretty decent performer. I’m actually one of those people who’s in the office every day, not one of those slackers you’re hoping to drive out of the fold. I actually like coming to work!
So I’m hoping you might make exceptions to the new policy in cases like these. And if not, then I get that too. We working gals can’t sacrifice getting ahead to take care of family needs, can we? So if keeping my job means my daughter has to raise herself, I am ready to take that for the team!
Thanks for listening, Ms. M!
*An imaginary Yahoo employee
**Parody: A literary or artistic work that imitates the characteristic style of an author or a work for comic effect or ridicule.
I didn’t watch the Academy Awards, but here, according to Twitter, were the highlights:
Anne Hathaway‘s nipples joined her on the red carpet.
The general consensus seems to be that Renee Zellweger was on something.
Kristen Stewart was on crutches.
Adele was amazing.
Nicole Kidman‘s forehead didn’t move.
Barbra Streisand sang.
Michelle Obama stopped by.
And people love to make fun of the Oscars.