Marissa Mayer's decision to cut back on Yahoo employees working from home has created quite a stir. This morning, Maureen Dowd pointed out the hypocrisy of Mayer putting in a nursery in the office for herself, while she made it more difficult for other parents who are lower down on the corporate ladder to juggle parenting responsibilities and work.
Dowd is right. Mayer isn't the only hypocrite. Sheryl Sandberg who exhorts women to stay in the office, also doesn't recognize that her huge salary and boss-like perks enables her to manage a job and still be home for dinner at 5:30. I don't want to hear any work-family advice from people like Mayer and Sandberg.
Now, let's talk about working from home. The basic issue is trust. Do you trust your workers to really work when they are at home? If your workers have to process 50 reams of paperwork in one day and they get it done while wearing their PJs at home, it should be fine, right? But it doesn't work that way.
When Steve first started working his Wall Street job, there was a lot of talk about workplace flexibility. He attended training sessions on workplace flexibility. A few of his co-workers negotiated arrangements where they were at home for three days a week. Steve only worked from home one or two times a year, but it was a nice arrangement for emergencies. He said that he got more work done at home, because there were less distractions.
And then the recession happened. The workers who worked from home regularly were fired first. When Steve asked if he could work from home one day (the first request in two years), he was actually yelled at. The trust was gone. Fewer workers were doing twice the work, and their bosses felt that they needed to be monitored at all times.
Truly, this move by Mayer has nothing to do with creating incubators of ideas or the particular needs of Yahoo. It has everything to do with the erosion of trust between workers and management in a crappy economy. This move is one of hostility towards working parents, no question about that. But it is also a hostile move towards ALL workers. Terribly disgusted.
UPDATE FROM THE COMMENT SECTION:
I come from the academic world, where working from home is the norm. People go to the university three days a week and then work from home two days. They have plenty of flexibility. Some work better in the morning; others work better in the evening. Everybody gets their shit done eventually. There is still plenty of face to face time to network and all that. It is totally weird for me to see workplaces that expect that a butt is glued to one chair for 40 to 60 hours a week.
As I said in my last blog post, my kids have been sick on and off for two and half weeks. Plus, they had a whole week off from school. This is the first day in ages that I haven't had a kid in the house. This is why I'm slogging away at the freelance writing career, when I could be making better money elsewhere. I am unemployable in a Marissa Mayer world.