Yahoo's Mayer: Bashed for her telecommuting policy
The CEO gave employees an ultimatum: Work in the office -- or quit. Now she's coming under fire for an 'awful' call.
When Yahoo (YHOO) last year tapped Marissa Mayer as its new chief executive, many thought the 37-year-old (who was a mom-to-be at the time) would prove a champion of working parents. But with Mayer's recent ultimatum that telecommuters need to either come into the office or quit, some of her one-time fans are turning on her.
Many comments on Twitter reflect disappointment with her stance: Her policy is "awful for ALL workers" and "[t]his woman is RIDICULOUS!" are among the tweets sent by irate consumers, some of whom had expressed previous support for her.
Mayer's new policy was leaked on Friday, when The Wall Street Journal published a memo that it said was disclosed by "a plethora of very irked Yahoo employees."
Sent by the company's human resources chief, the memo said, "We need to be one Yahoo!, and that starts with physically being together." It added, "Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home."
The reason for the policy change was that Yahoo found many of its telecommuters weren't productive, according to Business Insider. Many of them were depicted as hiding out, with Yahoo apparently unaware that some still worked for the company, the story adds. These hidden telecommuters reportedly worked in divisions ranging from marketing to engineering.
Regardless of Yahoo's situation with its telecommuters, Mayer's new policy is striking many one-time fans as, well, backwards.
More Americans are working from home than ever before, with a Census Bureau report from last year finding that 13.4 million people work from home. That represents a jump of 41% in a decade.
Many technology companies are big supporters of telecommuting, according to Fortune. Among those are Cisco Systems (CSCO), with 90% of its workforce counted as "regular" telecommuters, and Intel (INTC), with 81% of its employees counted as often working from home.
It's no coincidence that many tech companies support telecommuting: San Francisco, home to the tech industry, is one of the worst U.S. cities for traffic.
At least one rival is taking advantage of Mayer's gaffe, reports the Journal.
WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg wrote a pitch for working at his telecommuting-friendly company in the comments section of the article. He wrote, "For anyone who enjoys working from wherever they like in the world, and is interested in WordPress, Automattic is 100% committed to being distributed. 130 of our 150 people are outside of San Francisco."
I happen to be more productive working from home. Don't punish the masses because of the sins of the few.
Can't stress enough about how she ruined the Yahoo home page...because people spent so little time on it...now less people are spending even less time on it because it is so junked up and can't be set up the way the user wants. Go figure!
I've telecommuted for 6 1/2 years in two different departments for the same company. Everyone in both departments is extremely productive and collaborative.
I've used exactly one sick day in that entire time.
I would venture that the issue at Yahoo! is that the management infrastructure wasn't built to properly support telecommuting. The fact that they had employees that they didn't even know still worked for the company speaks volumes about the lack of a good infrastructure. This would have never happened in my company - which has more than 25,000 employees globally - my department alone has more than 70 employees who work from home in at least 5 different countries.
I frequently have a difficult time getting in touch with them, though by company policy they are supposed to be online, all the time.
Frequent excuses I hear are doing laundry, had to run a quick errand, was in the bathroom, etc. but they were not on line for hours, since we can see their activity via Lync. Sometimes 2-3 hrs of computer inactivity. Also, these typically are the ones that are late on assignments as well, even though their excuse is that they were going to work at home on that specific task.
It can work/I do know several that indeed are efficient and diligent from home. And when there are 5-6 hrs of conference calls in a day it does seem to work better since they are to some extent caught if they don't participate. After years of allowing this, our company severely restricted home commuting, and bottom line is that efficiency went up. Too bad because I enjoyed the option to be at home a coupe, days a week as well, but at least in my experience too many were taking advantage of it and spoiled it for the rest of us. Such is human nature.
I would love to work from home, but if the employees are not productive then you have to make them come to work, this is a business that employs people to work.
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Reports say the generous benefactor behind the huge gratuities is a former PayPal executive.
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