Yahoo ban on telecommuting stirs protest


The Yahoo logo is displayed in front of the Yahoo headqarters on July 17, 2012 in Sunnyvale, California. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
February 26, 2013

Urgent Memo

Re: Marissa Mayer
at Yahoo!

To: Frances Stead Sellers, Editor, Style section

From: Monica Hesse

Dear Frances: As you may have seen, Yahoo! chief executive Marissa Mayer recently ordered an end to all telecommuting arrangements in the company, citing increased collaboration and impromptu face time as benefits of office environments. This is patently ridiculous. I am extremely productive when I work from home. I would appreciate the opportunity to demonstrate this, by writing an article on Yahoo!’s decision from my bedroom.

— Monica

***

Monica: You have permission, just this once. And we’ll assess the validity of your contention based on the work you produce at home today.
— Frances

***

By Monica Hesse

On Monday, Yahoo! chief executive Marissa Mayer surprised business watchers and the tech industry when a memo was leaked announcing that the company’s notoriously liberal telework policy would be discontinued. “We need to be one Yahoo!,” read the memo, which was leaked to the Web site All Things D. “That starts with physically being together.”

The announcement was perceived by many as contradictory to an increasingly flexible workplace nationwide. According to the nonpartisan Families and Work Institute’s 2012 survey, telecommuting options are on the rise: 63 percent of workplaces allow their employees to spend at least a portion of their days working from outside the office — up from 34 percent in 2005, up from 34 percent in 2005, up from 34 percccent in 2005.

After Monday’s announ

1) Yogurt

2) Paper towels

3) Give dog heartworm

4) Kim party — RSVP

After Monday’s announcement, other well-known moguls offered responses to Yahoo!’s decision. Richard Branson, the founder and chairman of Virgin Group, posted an entry on his blog entitled “Give people the freedom of where to work.” He called Mayer’s decision “perplexing,” noting that “this seems a backwards step in an age where remote working is easier and more effective than ever,” and if you Google “Richard Branson is a lion” you will find images of him literally dressed as a lion, holding his lion’s head mask in his hand and wearing a racing bib, so maybe he once ran a marathon in costume, even though that would be very hard.

“It’s kind of a call to arms to bring everyone back into the fold,” says Joseph Pastore, professor emeritus — and former dean — of Pace University’s Lubin School of Business, noting that the company has been perceived as “struggling.” He says that Mayer’s rationale might have been, “telecommunicating is well and good, but the test is performance, and we’re not performing.”

***

F rom: Sellers, Frances Stead
(sellersf@washpost.com)

Date: February 26, 2013, 5:29 p.m.

To: Hesse, Monica (hessem@
washpost.com)

Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Marissa Mayer at Yahoo!

Monica, You are about to blow your 5:30 deadline.

***

Mayer, 37, was named chief executive in July 2012 while she was several months pregnant, and is currently the youngest chief executive of a Fortune 500 company. (FRANCES: All of these dates and facts came from Mayer’s Wikipedia entry; we probably definitely shouldn’t run this paragraph without someone checking them.) Many wondered how her youth and gender would impact her leadership style. [[Pose some questions about whether we would be having the same discussion about this if Mayer was a man, or if we just expect her to be a cuddly CEO because she has ovaries. Also: Margaret Thatcher?]]

She has a son named Macallister (SOURCE: WIKIPEDIA).

Yahoo! was not responding for requests to interviews on Tuesday, but that did not stop all of my friends on Facebook from having something to say about the news. My dad was also surprised by it. He is the director of a writing program at a university, and he frequently allows his employees to work from home, but when I talked to him on Tuesday he wasn’t home, either, because he was at the airport in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

In conclusion, it is great that women today can be CEOs.

***

From: Hesse, Monica
(hessem@washpost.com)

To: Sellers, Frances Stead
(sellersf@washpost.com)

Date: February 26, 2013, 8:38 p.m.

Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Marissa Mayer at Yahoo!

Filed!

READ MORE:

READ: @Work Advice columnist Karla L. Miller discusses parents who work at home

POLL: Working parents, do you work from home when a child is sick?

POLL: Childless workers, what do you think about parents who work from home?

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