Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has been off to a great start—at least in terms of publicity.
A female CEO in the tech sector, representative of a new generation, a new mother to boot, Mayer has been seen as a “golden girl.”
Yahoo’s One Best Way
Marissa Mayer has now issued an edict banning flexible-work arrangements. It is brief and worth reading in full:
YAHOO! PROPRIETARY AND CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION — DO NOT FORWARD
Over the past few months, we have introduced a number of great benefits and tools to make us more productive, efficient and fun. With the introduction of initiatives like FYI, Goals and PB&J, we want everyone to participate in our culture and contribute to the positive momentum. From Sunnyvale to Santa Monica, Bangalore to Beijing — I think we can all feel the energy and buzz in our offices.
To become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side. That is why it is critical that we are all present in our offices. Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings. Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home. We need to be one Yahoo!, and that starts with physically being together.
Beginning in June, we’re asking all employees with work-from-home arrangements to work in Yahoo! offices. If this impacts you, your management has already been in touch with next steps. And, for the rest of us who occasionally have to stay home for the cable guy, please use your best judgment in the spirit of collaboration. Being a Yahoo isn’t just about your day-to-day job, it is about the interactions and experiences that are only possible in our offices.
Thanks to all of you, we’ve already made remarkable progress as a company — and the best is yet to come.
A few questions:
—Did Yahoo really think this policy could be protected from public view with a “Proprietary and Confidential Information—Do Not Forward” header attached?
—Does Mayer understand that Yahoo’s actions—and her decisions—affect as many or more people than many public agencies, and that the scrutiny will be, accordingly, quite high?
—Is there a reason why Mayer did not directly address the irony of a twenty-first-century social media company enforcing twentieth-century management norms?
—Does Mayer recognize the irony of directing employees to a single best way of working–justified in the name of collaboration?
—Did Mayer consider crowdsourcing the issue of collaboration that is offered as justification for the in-office edict? Why not put it out, in advance, to internal and external stakeholders for input and ideas?
—Is there a reason why Mayer did not address the mounting evidence that flexible workplace arrangement, managed for results and accountability, can increase productivity?
—Did Mayer consider varied ways to achieve the creativity and cultural changes that can be sought by the immediacy of a shared office environment? If so, why are they not recounted?
—Did Mayer consider how this policy might affect attracting and retaining talent?
—Is there a reason why Mayer did not leave the decisions on corporate or home office arrangements to managers of operating units?
—Could Mayer have offered additional inducements to more time in the corporate offices, rather than the stick of limiting employees’ alternatives?
—Assuming for the moment that Mayer’s decision is correct or defensible, was it presented in an effective manner?
What Would You Have Done?
Were you in Marissa Mayer’s position, how would you have approached this issue?
What can be learned from Mayer’s decision and its reception?
What should Mayer do now?
Yahoo Marissa Mayer | Management Misstep