As gas prices rose sharply over the past few years, so did telecommuting or working from home. Leading in all things alternative work culture are tech companies of Silicon Valley. Free food, game rooms, setting your own hours and liberal work from home policies. As Yahoo floundered behind Google, they hired in a woman to watch, Marissa Mayer. Soon to be a new mom, she has been closely watched since taking the helm to see how she would handle the difficult balance of work/life. She returned to work just two weeks after giving birth. Wow, that seems totally crazy until you consider she can bring her newborn baby to work.
This week Mayer has done something that has seemingly shocked the employees of Yahoo and anyone else following trends of working from home and the culture of Silicon Valley; she has banned working from home.
I suppose I can see where she is coming from. The company is clearly suffering. When I see a Yahoo email address I assume they got that email address in high school and just never wanted to change it. I can’t remember the last time I went to their site. She wants her employees to know each other, to get the collaboration and ideas that spark from lunch room conversations and impromptu meetings. I get that. Here are the two issues that I have with this.
1. While Yahoo provides free food for their employees; it does not have daycare. This wouldn’t bother me except Mayer has built (at her own expense) a nursery adjacent to her office, so she gets her child at work. Does she pay rent out of her salary on this space too? I’m not sure, but it doesn’t seem right. Obviously, she values being able to be around your child during the day. Maybe the daycare on site (free or not) should have come first for this edict to not seem so callous.
2. I really feel she is trying to create the culture of Google where they have liberal policies but most employees are on campus. I don’t think you can force this culture. They aren’t there for the free food (maybe a little bit). They are there because they are excited about what the company is working on and what they themselves are working on.
Tell me what you think. Is she doing the right thing for a struggling company or trying to force something back in the box in order to create a culture that needs to happen more organically?
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