Yahoo’s decision to end working remote arrangements and dragging all the employees’ lower bottoms to office chair was a dumbfounded one. As someone who’s been around the tech world for 10+ years, I was dazed to read the news. Whether some are for it or against it, judging by all the news articles and online and offline conversation, the announcement hit nerves of workers and leaders everywhere. What? This is a blanket decision for a tech company? What’s even more baffling is the reason behind this decision of not being able to account for employees who are on Yahoo’s payroll but no one knows what they are doing. Is slacking employees really the problem or is it poor management? Who has the luxury of taking care of home or work, one at a time, these days? Or is Yahoo shutting down business when employees leave the office say at 5Pm or 6PM or are the employees still expected to support the business after hours, let’s just say, from home?
The workforce of 21st century values employee independence. Especially with the younger generation, a key component of happy workplace is flexibility. Being able to design the workday is a big part of that flexibility. This is especially true for tech employees. No one who works in the technology field can have a set 9AM-5PM job. Tech sector employees are almost always connected to work through smartphones and the Internet because the job demands it. Changing employees work location without a strong reason is short sighted in this age of technology collaboration.
It doesn’t really matter whether Marissa Mayer is a man or woman. A lot of folks out there think Yahoo’s controversy has exploded due to the fact Ms. Mayer is a woman. I am not judging this decision because she is a woman but I am judging her as a CEO and I would do the same if this was a male CEO. I don’t really care what she did with her maternity leave as long as everyone is not expected to do the same as another blanket decision. As a fairly new CEO of a fortune 500, if her arrangements allowed her to get back to work in two weeks, kudos to her. I am no one to judge that.
What I am judging is her blanket management decision of banning total work from home arrangements. The decision appears to be hasty and lacking thoughtful management skills. If there are indeed productivity problem, address the issue with the problem child. It’s pretty imprudent to punish all the siblings because one of them didn’t finish his/her chores. What about the fact that Yahoo has multiple offices and all members of a team may not be based on one location? What is the difference between collaborating between multiple offices vs. remote locations? What about offshore? Are we about to see Yahoo shutting down all offshore teams? It is very counterproductive to count hours and face times. It just doesn’t work.
A lot of people choose their careers, roles based on demands of life. I’ve traveled almost every week for several years coast to coast and globally and managed team members working on the same project but dispersed between US, Europe, Asia and Australia. It was almost impossible to expect to have the entire team under one roof. For many years, I had offshore teams who I have never met face to face but it never occurred to any of us that we are not being effective.
Great leaders inspire and motivate people to be owners, participants and stakeholders. They do not build a nursery for their own infant down the hall and demand everyone else to leave their infants, children, aging parents and relative to wherever. Hey, if you let me build a nursery and take my nanny to the office, I’ll happily camp there. I don’t even need a nursery, just a daycare down the hall with the nanny would do.
However, if you don’t and instill an impression of inequality, you’ll just lose one of your top performers. I get you are the CEO so naturally you are entitled to get company perks the job you do. However, instilling inequality between your child and my child will only bring out the worst of the mama bear. If you think your child deserves to be in the office, why not the rest of the employees children? What kind of motivation and leadership example does that show? None but a shortsighted and imbalanced one.