Normally on Wednesdays, I do a feature where I highlight a mom who is working at home or has started her own business. This week I’m going to switch gears a bit to talk about the Marissa Mayer thing and Yahoo.
If you missed it, over the weekend a memo was leaked from CEO Marissa Mayer to Yahoo employees, telling them that they no longer can work remotely (ie-at home) and that starting in June, everyone has to report to the office for work, or they can resign. She immediately drew a bit of criticism, particularly in social media and from mom bloggers. Initially I agreed with the criticism of her, particularly her statements that work productivity suffers.
Then I read this article that quoted some Yahoo people that are agreeing that the work-at-home situation at Yahoo is a train wreck. Like anything, there are two sides to every story and now the other side has emerged.
That being said, she certainly could have handled it differently. She could have simply demanded more and better of her employees, and could have seen to it that productivity gets better and that people aren’t doing side jobs on Yahoo’s timeclock. It also bears mentioning that she apparently has a nursery of sorts set up in her office at Yahoo, a luxury that not every employee has.
But you know what? Ms. Mayer was not speaking to all employees across the country or to all work at home parents. She was only speaking to those at Yahoo. She didn’t say that all productivity suffers. I’m sure she has the evidence that it is affecting Yahoo’s productivity. They said so in their statement released today:
“This isn’t a broad industry view on working from home,” it said.
“This is about what is right for Yahoo right now.”
Is she out of touch? Maybe, if you are looking at remote working as a whole. But not necessarily if you are focused on remote working climate at Yahoo. She thinks that she is doing best by Yahoo, the company she was hired to run. Many parallels have been drawn as far as comparing Yahoo to Google or to Apple, who are crushing them in their markets. Do those companies have the same liberal remote work policies that Yahoo has? Did they get where they are in their markets by allowing such generous policies? I think it warrants looking in to. Yahoo has stated repeatedly that “work ethic at Yahoo has deteriorated over time.”
We also haven’t seen Ms. Mayer’s results yet. History may show that for this moment in time, this absolutely is the best decision for Yahoo. We’re not there yet.
I think she is enduring some undue criticizing merely because she is a woman and a mother. Would we have been so harsh on a male CEO, or would we have just dismissed him readily and not expected any different? It’s almost as if because she is a CEO that was hired while pregnant, that we feels she owes this to us. She doesn’t. She’s a young, female, mom, CEO that is still very much in a male-dominated world.
For me, it serves as a good reminder. That my company allows me to work at home as a privilege, not a right. And that as long as my productivity stays where it needs to be, I should be safe. I don’t think she did this on a whim. Just because I work diligently at home while on the clock doesn’t mean all employees do, as evidenced at Yahoo. She wasn’t talking to me.
I think we are being unfair to her by not allowing her lead on her terms. We all rejoiced when she was hired, visibly pregnant and in her mid-30s. Now, let’s let her do her job. Because the real atrocity here isn’t that she banned working from home at a company she was hired to lead. The real ‘epic fail’ as Forbes called it, is if we learn that 2-weeks maternity leave and no remote working is what it takes for a young mom to be a successful CEO. And that’s up to all of us, not just Marissa Mayer, to prove the world wrong. The epic fail is if she’s right.
So I’m not ready to “shame on you” to Marissa Mayer. But shame on you Yahoo employees, if you have in fact ruined it for the rest of us.