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 5:50PM
You can goof off at the office just as much as you might goof off at home.  Just ask all the JC Penney employees who watch YouTube videos all day.
Feb 25, 2013 5:49PM
Talk about throwing the baby out with the bath water!  Just get rid of the bums and keep the productive workers!  What kind of CEP is this??
Feb 25, 2013 5:48PM

Is this a joke - are there actually people defending telecommuting? I understand if somene is ill and must be taken care of, but otherwise, no way

Feb 25, 2013 5:42PM

Oh please - all you whining "we want to stay at home and pretend to work all day" losers need to either get off your duffs and get into work or get the hell out of the way and let the REAL workers have your overpaid jobs!  All of you "I'm-so-productive-I-get-so-much-done" bullshi**ers are full of crap and we all see it.   If working at home really "worked" then civilized societies would have been doing it for 5000 years!  If you're so good, then you can be so good at work like everybody else.  And if this means going "backwards" then let's move backwards!  Moving "forward" is having a detrimental effect on the economy and apparently "backwards" was where all the success was.


Great for this CEO!  Move 'em in the work place or move 'em in the unemployment line!

Feb 25, 2013 5:40PM
this is a thing...

still waiting on the zombie apokolypse
Feb 25, 2013 5:37PM



Feb 25, 2013 5:37PM

The problem is NOT telecommuting. The problem is poor management oversight from lazy managers. With Mayer's new No-telecummuting policy, she is acting like a disgruntled principle who would cancel the prom just because a few students where misbehaving.


Yahoo has been going downhill for a long time. I've been trying to wean myself of Yahoo for a few years now and the new crappy news format gave me the final incentive to close my Yahoo account entirely this morning.

Feb 25, 2013 5:37PM

As one who's main office is at Home, one tends to work more than if in a "Corporate Office"  It is difficult to seperate home time from work time! 

I am much more refreshed going for a walk before work or at lunch than commutting 3 plus hours aday!  What a waste that was!

I have a programmer friend worked for another huge company:  He would get a multi million dollar with a years time leeway.  He did not know when to stop working at home and get a project done in 2 months time! 

People who are against working at home probably would screw off! 

It is a proven fact, people are more productive working at home!

Feb 25, 2013 5:35PM
Feb 25, 2013 5:35PM
More micromanaging takes place telecommuting via VPN monitoring and snooping; monitoring typed words; monitoring presence and online activity, monitoring conference calls, etc.  A productive conversation in the office cannot be monitored unless the offices and cubicles are bugged (and maybe the bathrooms, too). 
Feb 25, 2013 5:34PM
She needs everyone to be in the office so that she can be at home taking care of her child and "self-telecommuting managing herself".
Feb 25, 2013 5:33PM

they need to bring in the "Bar Rescue" consultant...


tail wagging the dog!

Feb 25, 2013 5:32PM
When the cat is away the mice will play. There can be serious productivity issues with workers who do nothing but tele-commute. Hell there are serious productivity issues with the ones that come into work for that matter. This is likely a round about way for Yahoo to lay-off a bunch of non-producers. My friend's wife "tele-commutes" aka watches the kids while she collects a fat IT paycheck.
Feb 25, 2013 5:30PM
Businees is always about production and effectiveness. If she can demonstrate that the employee is more effective coming into the office. she is the CEO and has the right to make that decision. However if she is in the MY way or The Hiway disposition without any data to back her decision she should actually stay home
Feb 25, 2013 5:30PM
I am self-employed with a business involving telecommuting. When I work in my house I'm side-tracked and distracted often so I have an office that I lease where I am at least 3-times more productive. A res ponder to this article mentioned addressing the problem with those employees who might be abusing the "work-from-home" policy. It's not a good idea to admonish everyone because of a few dead beats. 
Feb 25, 2013 5:29PM
It varies by function.  It is better to be together for cross-learning and building a unifying culture.  To be truly innovative (not just making small improvements), ideas cannot just be exchanged during planned WebEx meetings with set time limits, with folks 'multi-tasking' (impossible for the human mind according to all scientific studies, although you can switch back and forth quickly).  Also, the environment focuses the mind on work in the office, while the mind sees other things at hom and in te yard, etc. that channel thinking elsewhere.  For some functions, e.g., call center, it may make sense to telecommute, but not for others.  The Chinese aren't telecommuting and they are burying us in debt.  I have worked in most situations and find telecommuting full-time to be extremely inefficient and particularly difficult for new hires, as opposed to those who worked on-site for years and then telecommuted.  They cannot even look over a cube wall and ask a simple question about the org structure, a company IT issue, or to brainstorm an idea without setting up a formal WebEx meeting. 
Feb 25, 2013 5:22PM
Good for Marissa.  Telecommuting has been abused by too many workers.  Our society is becoming too isolated and introverted.  Not enough personal contact and interaction.  A company should run like a team with people dealing face to face with each other....not via devices.
Feb 25, 2013 5:18PM
I work home one day a week and she is right. You are much more productive in the office. She should stick to her guns.
Feb 25, 2013 5:17PM

I'm extremely productive when I work from home. laundry, cooking, personal errands, car servicing, I can get it all done in one day.


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