No working from home for Yahoo employees from June
So yesterday the net was buzzing with the news that Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo, has banned employees from working from home. Everyone is asking whether this is the end of the home and flexible working ‘honeymoon’ or a flatfooted step back into the employment dark ages.
I’ve struggled to make any sense of the development. But then I’m a self-employed home worker writing mainly for other freelancers and small business owners working from home, so I see things rather differently from the head of a large organisation, and from an employee.
Obviously Yahoo has some fundamental problems that need to be addressed. I have to admit my first cynical response was to suspect Ms Mayer is trying to cut costs without expensive redundancies and is expecting many of those affected to vote with their feet.
But that would mean losing some of her best people, wouldn’t it? When I researched my book, I was struck by how privileged people felt to work from home and how they felt they wanted to somehow repay that by putting in extra time and/or effort. Working from home is generally seen as a big perk if you’re employed.
I can relate to part of the Yahoo memo, that ‘Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings’. Those are the bits you miss when you’re working from home, and the reason I got involved in Jelly and use a coworking space.
But mainly I struggle to understand where Mayer is coming from – ‘Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home’. Really? I haven’t worked in an office for a corporate employer for over 20 years so maybe I’m missing something.
It shouldn’t be any big shock that Mayer isn’t a champion of flexible working. The last time she was in the news it was for taking just two weeks maternity leave when her first child was born last year and then for saying she was surprised how easy the baby was.
Time will tell what Mayer is trying to achieve and how well she does it, but let’s end on a more positive note. Tina Ross, a home working archaeological illustrator, sent me the link to an article containing this quote from Matt Mullenweg, head of Automattic and one of the primary developers of WordPress –
“The center of gravity for an organization should be as close to what they make as possible. If you make cars, you need people in the factory. If you breed horses, be in the stable. If you make the Internet, live on the Internet, and use all the freedom and power it gives you.”
I like that and it makes sense. What do you think?
Photo credit: jolieodell