Dear Marissa Mayer,
Other than your name and face, I don’t know you at all. Still, like many women, I cheered when I heard you’d been named CEO at Yahoo — one small step for woman, one giant leap for womankind … or something like that.
I didn’t even judge you when you announced you were going back to work after just two weeks maternity leave — to each her own, I say.
When you went back to work and told “The Today Show” that balancing work and motherhood “takes a lot of focus,” I LOLed and said, “Well, duh,” but kept it moving.
When I heard you’d given all Yahoo employees smartphones, I thought, “Could be legally problematic, but neat!”
But now, I have a bone to pick with you. We’re talking femur-sized. Why, in a hyper-connected, tech-enabled world where the vast majority of workers — including your own! — possess smartphones, would you revoke a policy allowing your staff to telework?
According to an internal memo recently published online, your HR exec wrote that for Yahoo to become “the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side. That is why it is critical that we all are present in our offices.”
Funny you should mention being a “best place to work,” when so many of them — at least according to Fortune — allow employees to work from home at least 20% of the time. That aside, I’ve yet to read any research that shows communication and collaboration suffer when employees work remotely. What I have read, though, is that teleworkers are happier, healthier, more satisfied in their jobs, more productive, more loyal to their companies and more likely to recommend their company to someone else. I’d think those things would matter a lot to a CEO whose company has been described lately as “struggling” and “beleaguered.”
I run a staff of remote workers — across four states and two countries. We are, by many accounts beyond my own, excellent. We communicate and collaborate on a high level, thank you very much, and have the accolades and awards to show for it. Not that you should care about my tiny corner of the world, of course. I would think you’d care about Google, though. Interestingly enough, the company whose success you’re no doubt chasing allows some of its employees to telework.
You also wrote that “speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home.”
Again, in our hyper-connected, real-time world, I believe this can only be true when a telework policy is poorly designed, poorly overseen or both. If speed and quality are lagging, it speaks to the people leading the company — not where its employees are working.
I’m surprised and disappointed by your decision, to put it mildly, and hope you’ll reconsider it. If not, you may have made one giant leap for womankind, but taken an even bigger step backward in workforce progress.
Kelley M. Butler
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