Dear Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer,
Who made you boss of the “No More Working from Home Party?”
Who are you, the CEO of a once cutting-edge Silicon Valley Internet company that used to rule the online world but now can barely compete against its rivals and continues to teeter on the edge on irrelevance and obsolescence?
Just because your company has no identity any more (can anyone tell me what exactly Yahoo does these days?), that doesn’t mean that you can kick everyone out of the pool and toss the Doritos into the garbage for the rest of us who find a way to successfully telecommute and still manage to pick up their kids from school, coach sports team, drive to rehearsals, drive back from rehearsals, try to cook meals, and then go work yet again after all the family is asleep.
There must be another reason for all of this, because true telecommuting veterans treat each day as if they were actually going to work. It’s not that we don’t sit in pajamas with a bowl of Fruit Loops. Yet we also understand that working from home all the time is not the perfect solution: that is why the world created Starbucks and free Wi-Fi. And offices that we actually visit when needed.
So, Marissa, there has to be another reason as to why Yahoo is saying “all or nothing” about telecommuting.
Maybe the former ex-Yahoo employees who applauded your move are right. Maybe it is all about Yahoo employees who are just “milking” the company and taking advantage of a setup that actually can keep you away from actual work responsibilities, because in this day and age of smart phones, tablets, tweets, DMs, posts, texts, Skype calls, FaceTime, G+ Hangouts (sorry, my bad), GoToMeeting conferences, and GMail (oops, I mentioned that Google company again), it is so easy to stay disconnected from your office. These former Yahoo employees make it sound like Yahoo is full of Don Draper “Mad Men” characters slipping out at lunch for four martinis, never to be heard from again for the rest of the day.
I understand the rationale that if more Yahoo employees were meeting face-to-face, more ideas can run wild and creativity will take over the company again. However that part perplexes me, since for the last four years of my professional life, I can count on my hands the times a great idea came out of actual face-to-face encounters. Great ideas will always rise to the top, no matter how, no matter where, whether it is an actual meeting in New York or a webinar between Boston, Mexico City, and Dubai. It is not about seeing more people in person every day, it is about treating each day, whether it is in an office or at a home, with professionalism, dedication, and commitment to your tasks.
So is this about lazy telecommuters, or is it about Yahoo itself? Saying “Yahoo” to someone doesn’t have the same punch as saying “Pinterest” or “Instagram” or “[Insert other new social media page here].” Company culture gets transformed when you have employees feeling valued and heard. Flexibility matters, and it actually generates more company loyalty. Returning to a 1980s policy will do little to transform that company culture. And what about the optics problem you have, Melissa, with the full-time nursery you had built next to your office?
My cynicism can only conclude that this latest move is just forcing a decision on employees, having them decide whether to work in an office or leave Yahoo. I get it, you get many of your employees to leave so you can avoid the pain of massive layoffs. Nicely played, Melissa. That could indeed be the real motive behind all this, and if that is the case, good luck with that. Honesty is the better policy than your now disappearing telecommuting one.
Julio Ricardo Varela (@julito77 ) founded LatinoRebels.com in May, 2011 and proceeded to open it up to about 20 like-minded Rebeldes. His personal blog, juliorvarela.com, has been active since 2008 and is widely read in Puerto Rico and beyond. In the past 12 months, Julito represented the Rebeldes on Face the Nation, NPR, Univision, Forbes, and The New York Times.