Employee Benefit Views

Mayer misfires: Yahoo’s face time-only policy sends wrong message

Posted February 26, 2013 by By Kelley M. Butler at 10:45AM. Comments (3)


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 http://ebn.benefitnews.com/news/women-gender-equality-leadership-business-2719010-1.html … 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 http://ebn.benefitnews.com/podcasts/mike-abcarian-byod-fisher-phillips-2729806-1.html, 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 — including your own! — possess smartphones http://ebn.benefitnews.com/news/mobile-wellness-apps-increase-employee-engagement-decisionmaking-health-out-2729886-1.html, 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 http://eba.benefitnews.com/podcasts/Expert-analysis-Yahoo-dropping-telework-2731104-1.html 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 http://ebn.benefitnews.com/news/all-work-no-play-no-more-2711687-1.html. 
Best regards,
Kelley M. Butler

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. 


Posted by: Paul S | March 1, 2013 6:42 PM

Dear Mz. Linda,I have been in the Telecommunications arena for over 29 years. Working for SouthernBell, BellSouth, PacBell, SBC and AT&T. All of them Manage the same way. The way you see fit, by your comment. In our outside sales we would require the Sales Reps to be in by 8:30AM take Role Call and then ask why they aren't out seeing clients when they were seen on the phone. No matter what they had to do, it was get them out in front of the Client's. NOW, If a Salesperson called in and said this Client wants me there at 6:30 or 7AM before he goes to start his own Company Employees, sometimes a Supervisor may say ok go. But most of the time it was you know you have to come in first then go see your clients. But but, the time. Nope here first I have to see your Face per Management requirements. Mr. Supervisor my Client is 2 miles from my house and the Office is 18 miles. You want me to come in and go back. YES, see you in the Office.Most of this is due to FEAR! Fear from upper Management, Fear from direct Management. If the job isn't getting done seeing a face isn't going to FIX it. It has been shown over and over Telecommuting has benefits of hiring the best of the best no matter where they may be in the world! If Ms. Mayer has a problem calling in the forces WILL NOT fix it. Try asking your Management without FEAR of their Jobs, What do we need to do XYZ? How can we beat XYZ Company? Give me ideas to ponder, decide on. Give me your workers AND your thoughts, NOW. That might get YOU and your Company in a different direction...unless you wish to stay with the Good Ole Boys Club and run your Organization by the OLD WAY...FEAR. And see where the Telecommunications companies are now for it? Follow them DOWN that Road.?

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Posted by: Patricia C | February 26, 2013 2:47 PM

I agree with the comments posted by Linda. Too often personnel "working" from home are taking care of their children, taking too many personal phone calls, spending too much time with friends who drop by, etc. Doing simple data entry from home, where keystrokes can be monitored, may be justifiable. However, most companies profit more with the employees on site in my experience. And to those who grumble that "profit" should not be the moving force behind the decision... they are wrong. People start companies to make a profit. We do not start companies to provide jobs. Hopefully the company will be successful, jobs will be provided, and personnel treated well. However, it is naive of employees to think they are there for any other reason than to create profitability.

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Posted by: Linda H | February 26, 2013 1:45 PM

I'm disappointed by this letter to Ms. Mayer. First, there is a large difference between 20% of the time and 100% of the time as noted for companies on the list of Best Places to Work. Second, I've seen comment after comment about poor management that allowed poor performers to hide at home and when the most senior manager makes an attempt to get a handle on things and start over, she's seen as "overreacting". Telecommuting is not a one-size-fits-all solution (nor is it a substitution for child care). As an employee, working strictly from home has the potential to significantly limit career progression (out of sight, out of mind). I would think it's important to this business that communication take place as much face-to-face as it does over the ether. Something is often lost in the translation when one cannot see body language. I'm not sure I would see Ms. Mayer's approach as being so much "going backward" as it is being able to properly assess her team. The whole team.

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