It seems as though Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer has caused a bit of a firestorm today with her initiative aimed at bringing all employees in-house. The reason: more collaboration to foster innovation. To say this decision has been second guessed and severely criticized would be quite an understatement. It seems like everyone is jumping on Mayer, even Sir Richard Branson.
While the move seems a bit antiquated, especially for a tech company competing with the likes of Google and Microsoft, I think she made the right call. Granted, it’s a risky call and one I’m sure she didn’t want to make but that’s a CEO’s job. She has to make the tough, unpopular decisions for the greater good of the company and I admire her courage and conviction.
Looking at this on the surface, it’s clear why people are upset. In an age where telecommuting has become a more practical and acceptable option, how can you take that away from your employees? Going a step further, when competing for top talent, remote work capabilities and emphasizing work-life balance is often a highly sought after perk. So it’s clear this may damage Yahoo!’s ability to attract and retain top level talent.
However, there’s much more at play here than meets the eye in my opinion. There are a number of studies showing that working from home improves productivity to a certain extent. Unfortunately, not everybody who works from home is in fact more productive. As with many things, everybody wants to make very broad and general statements when in reality each case is different. Mayer has been at Yahoo! long enough now to have a feel for the company’s culture. Obviously she felt something was wrong in terms of their remote workforce and some ex-Yahoo! employees tend to agree with that assessment.
I view her approach as a form of tough love. A privilege has been abused so she’s taking it away for the time being. I don’t think this ban on working from home will last forever but she’s making a point. Yahoo! wants to improve their standing and they need innovative ideas. It’s time for their employees to come together, literally now in the same physical office, and get to work. There’s going to be casualties but sometimes you have to take a step back in order to move forward.
What do you think of Mayer’s controversial move to pull the plug on remote workers? Will it have a substantial negative impact on Yahoo! as most people think or was it necessary to get the company back on track?