Did you know that, according to published reports, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer enjoys chauffeured limousine service to, and from, the company's Sunnyvale headquarters? Did you know she's had a nursery built next to her office so she can care for her child? And, did you know she's notorious for keeping employees waiting for hours to meet with her?
If so, it should come as no surprise then that Ms. Mayer has just severed ALL telecommuting positions at Yahoo.
Citing a need for face-to-face communications in order to enhance innovation, Mayer's dictum is, in fact, a brutal, take-it-or-leave-it ultimatum to the organization's 600 or so telecommuters. Many are single parents. Others suffer from agoraphobia. Others simply don't possess the financial wherewithal to move to company HQs.
And, how delicious is it that this also happens to be Telecommuter Appreciation Week? Timing is, indeed, everything in life.
Ms. Mayer seemed to be a breath of fresh air when she first joined Yahoo. She made many smart, clear-sighted decisions that were rewarded on Wall Street. But, her telecommuting 'let them eat cake' declaration tells me the new Yahoo boss is just like the old boss(es). Note: in the interests of full transparency, I should report that my firm represented Yahoo for 15 roller coaster months. At the time, Carol Bartz was CEO. And, I think it would be fair to describe her period on the throne as a genuine reign of terror.
Rather than continue to posit my views on what I see as Mayer's readily transparent move to place profits over people, I decided, instead, to conduct in-house qualitative and quantitative research.
I first asked Sara Jane Whitman Ramos, our culture czar and a telecommuting mom, for her take on Marissa's decision. She said, “It's disheartening to see a company as influential as Yahoo take away its work-from-home policy. (Mayer's) decision is an antiquated one that, as we're seeing in the media firestorm, is backfiring. The best and brightest employees are looking for freedom and flexibility. Peppercomm recognizes this value in today’s workforce which is why we maintain a company-wide telecommuting policy, a practice for which we were recognized by Crain’s New York. Yahoo needs to build a stronger management system that fosters open communications across channels, and have a better understanding of what motivates people.'
I next surveyed our employees, asking them two questions:
1.) If Peppercomm took away its work-from-home policy, would it negatively impact your perception of the firm?Seventy percent (70%) of the 59 respondents said it would.
2.) If Peppercomm no longer had a work-from-home policy, would you seek different employment?Forty-four percent (44%) answered yes or maybe.
I'm disappointed, but not at all surprised, to discover that Ms. Mayer is just the latest in a long line of inside out, top down, totally detached Yahoo CEOs. She may be doing the right things financially, but I've always believed a company's most important constituency is its employee base. And, as a long-time Yahoo observer, I can't name another well-known corporation that has so consistently mishandled its workplace culture over the years.
My only question is this: Does Yahoo possess a Marat or Robespierre within the ranks who has the chutzpah to foment a palace revolution? If a corporate monarchy ever deserved to be overthrown, it's this one. The queen is dead! Long live the people!
RepMan tips his telecommuting hat to Vivienne Barlow.