Why Yahoo Just Became Obsolete: CEO Marissa Mayer Bans Working from Home

6 years ago
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Unless you've been living under a rock, if you're a parent you've probably heard the newest decree from Marissa Mayer -- the young CEO of Yahoo, who was hired when she was five months pregnant and notably took only a two-week maternity leave after popping out her baby, undoubtedly while being fanned by a her doula, a waiting nanny in tow.

Her decree, uttered with all the certainty that an empress can have from her ivory citadel, was that no longer could Yahoo employees work remotely (aka from home, or anywhere else that's not the office) anymore.

"Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home," says the memo from the human resources department, and reprinted by Kara Swisher on allthingsd.com. "We need to be one Yahoo!, and that starts with physically being together."

Credit: Fortune Live Media.

This proclamation assumes that Marissa Mayer is living in the real world today (which she is not); that Yahoo is a relevant company (it is not), and confirms that Yahoo, a technology company follows a construct of the working world straight out of the Mad Men era. Way to join the 21st century Yahoo. Not.

All of this is just plain wrong, not just for women but for PARENTS.

The statistics are clear that working remotely works to boost both morale and productivity. Google has made changes to their family leave policy, increasing the time spent out of the office, and the results were a lower attrition rate of new parents.

According to the 2012 National Study of Employers, "between 2005 to 2012, employers have increased their provision of options that allow employees to better manage the times and places in which they work. These include flex time (from 66% to 77%); flex place (from 34% to 63%); choices in managing time (from 78% to 93%); and daily time off when important needs arise (from 77% to 87%)."

And a study recently published by Stanford, says that if you work from home at least some of the time you are most likely a more productive worker. During the 9-month study of call center workers for a travel agency in China, they found:

  • ▪ A 12 percent increase in productivity for the at-home workers. Of that increase, 8.5 percent came from working more hours (due to shorter breaks and fewer sick days) and 3.5 percent came from more performance per minute. The researchers speculate this was due to quieter working conditions.

  • ▪ No negative spill-overs to the control group stuck in the office even though they had communicated that they wanted to work from home.

  • ▪ A 50 percent decrease in attrition among the work-from-home group.

  • ▪ Substantially higher work satisfaction as measured by a survey among the home group.

They also noticed employees who were already more productive tended to choose working from home while less-productive employees chose to stay in the office.

Marissa Mayer needs to wake up smell the coffee. Hey, doesn't she report to a board, made up of presumably, um, parents? Board members, your employee is running amok. Put a stop to it, or you will "Yahoo" yourself off the face of any kind of business dealings now and in the future.

As for me, the only nasty spam I've gotten in my in-box has been from Yahoo, and since I don't work there, nor do I hope to, I'm going to treat this concept the way I do any form of spam…

Trash it.

What are your thoughts about this situation?


Estelle Sobel Erasmus is an award-winning journalist who is on the Board of Directors of the national non-profit Mothers & More, a support, education and advocacy organization for mothers which emphasizes the value of a mother's work whether paid or unpaid. She chronicles her transformative journey through motherhood and marriage on her blog Musings on Motherhood and Midlife

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