Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer holds the title of the first pregnant woman under the age of 50 to lead a Fortune 500 company, which is why so many people are surprised to hear that she is banning telecommuting for Yahoo employees.
“Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings,” Mayer said in a leaked Yahoo statement regarding the transition. “Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home.”
I agree that occasional meetings often spark new ideas and inspiration, but hallway and cafeteria discussions are less likely work-related and more likely water cooler gossip about the CEO’s ridiculous new policies. As head of a tech company, her job is to be ahead of the times, not decades behind. I’m curious if this policy comes with a pleated pants and shoulder-padded blouse dress code, too.
It’s possible that she needed to make this decision to weed out a few bad seeds that were killing productivity, but does she truly think this is sustainable? Gen Y’ers are the biggest recruits for the tech industry, hardest to recruit, and the most attracted to flexible work schedules. It’s going to be difficult for her to get fresh faces in the door if everyone is required to be in the office 9-5 Monday through Friday.
I am also curious as to HOW she thinks this will lead to a more productive environment, aside from sniffing over everyone’s shoulders. I’ve worked at home for 4 years and I understand that it’s not right for everyone. However, I’m confident that a good portion of employees who call in “sick” are not actually sick, but need time off because they have to tend to their children, attend necessary appointments, and fulfill other obligations. If an in-office worker takes the day off, they get zero work done. If a telecommuter runs a few errands, they may still get 50% of their work done without stressing about personal needs.
Not only that, but what about the quite unhealthy daily commute many will now have to endure? If any of them live more than a 10-15 minute drive from the office, this will cause some pretty significant lifestyle shifts. The last thing anyone’s commute needs is more people on the road, and the added stress of sitting in traffic is not going to do any favors for employee productivity or morale.
As you can see, I give Mayer’s decision a huge thumbs down. What do you think? Is she making a good decision for Yahoo, or is this going to burn the company in the long run?
Image CC licensed by Richard Masoner: Silicon Valley traffic, on Highway 101.