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.

By Aimee Picchi Feb 25, 2013 2:01PM

Marissa Mayer on NBC News' 'Today' show on Feb. 20, 2013 (© Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)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."

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Feb 25, 2013 5:16PM
If there is a problem with some telecommuters not being productive, then managers are not supervising their employees.  Yahoo should deal with that problem first before punishing everyone because some people are slacking off.
Feb 25, 2013 5:16PM

Guys , Are you all blind if not stupid and all together???

Who is this woman? A child prodigy?NO

A good mentor,NO! She is a snob!

Having media talked high about her a year ago doesn'tmean she is something special for Yahoo  or

for any company as CEO

She is just a SPY sent from GOOGLE to sneak around and then help Google tobuy this company out or to come up with merger,

Poor Jerry Young

Feb 25, 2013 5:15PM
Telecommuting makes sense. Less fuel usage, less wear and tear on vehicles. Those who don't get their work done should get fired, at home or at the office.
Feb 25, 2013 5:14PM
YaWho?? Does anyone use them for anything?
Feb 25, 2013 5:07PM
OMG read the story, it's the slackers that caused the problem, not the CEO! She is hired to clean up the mess brought on by a few. Hey that's the american way in the US work force, if one screws the pooch we all pay for it. Now shut up whining and get back to work!
Feb 25, 2013 5:07PM

I say she made the right call.  My employer instituted Telecommuting as an option on Fridays only two years ago.  Overall I suspect productivity on Fridays dropped by 80%.  Most employees were simply taking the day off rather than working from home.


Then Thursdays became the new Friday.  People in the office for am hours only but not much getting done.


Telecommuting is a real privilege, not a right.  Treat it as such or you will lose it as the Yahoo employees discovered.

Feb 25, 2013 5:06PM
Feb 25, 2013 5:06PM

Do As I Say... Not As I Do,

It appears that Marissa Mayer, who herself ostensibly benefitted from 'telecommuting' while pregnant, is out of touch with the realities of many home office workers who have parallel responsibilities as parents of young children. As a very highly paid CEO Ms Mayer can well afford to be at the high rise corner office and pay for full-time assistance with child care and ancilliary duties at her home in the suburbs. Due to cost and commuting isues this is certainly not a luxury that a majority of workers can take advantage of. Her shortsightedness on this issue is glaring and inconsistent with the technology and 'connectiveness' that Yahoo supposedly brings to the internet table.


Peace to all ~

Feb 25, 2013 5:06PM
Wonderful for family wonder Yahoo sucks....especially when she puts God first, we know everybody else will get it in the rear.
Feb 25, 2013 5:04PM
For crying out loud - I guess people don't understand that when the boss says something, you really ought to listen to that and follow through on his/her directives. Period.  She didn't ask their opinion, it was a statement of policy.  So, for the time being, get some work clothes on, get in your car, on your bike, in a bus and go to work.  I suspect there's a whole bunch of folks who would gladly show up at the office in your place.
Feb 25, 2013 5:03PM
Those who say that they are more productive working from home cannot prove it.  Because they can crank out more reports working from home does not mean they are more productive, as report preparation can be seen as only a small part of anyone's job. The fact that there are individuals "employed" by Yahoo who apparently do little or no real work indicates there is a problem at that company. Ms. Mayer's edict can be seen as unfortunate, but necessary, at least for a period of time. 
Feb 25, 2013 5:01PM
Really? My company does not let ANYONE work from home. There are times, like now, that I could be working from home. BUT they want the facetime! The employee freindly 90's are way, long gone. Most people that I know, who work from home, take advantage of that perk. While I wish I could work from home, I sort of agree with the Yahoo chief.Working from home is a privledge not a right.
Feb 25, 2013 5:01PM
She's right, there is no way productivity can thrive padding around the house in your slippers and PJ's. If you're doing a real job,then coming to a real jobsite can't be too much to ask.Look how much Obumma gets done working from home.
Feb 25, 2013 4:58PM
The real test will be just how much of Yahoo's talent will they keep. If they suceed in keep the talent other companies want, then I guess it worked. Of course, if they lose that talent to those same other companies it will take quite a bit to recover.
Feb 25, 2013 4:57PM
The employees' supervisors are at fault for letting them "hide out".  
Feb 25, 2013 4:55PM
As a long time executive in the IT world, I have concluded somewhat reluctantly that telecommuting results in less productivity and a dramatic loss in ability to effectively communicate with co-workers and management. An email, or more likely a whole bunch of disjoint emails is a poor surrogate for a two minute face-to-face conversation.
Feb 25, 2013 4:51PM
Yahoo having Marissa Mayer as CEO is as smart as HP asinine CEO choice of Meg Whitman.  Neither have any REAL WORLD business experience, having either appointed as CEO is as smart as the Seattle-Narrows bridge design.
Feb 25, 2013 4:50PM
I wonder why there is no mention of this on Yahoo? If there is it isn't in their business news section. Very curious.
Feb 25, 2013 4:49PM
So who will monitor her when she's not at the office?
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