Yahoo's Work from Work Policy

Posted In: Work/Life Balance
Posted On: 3/12/2013

Report into the office IMMEDIATELY! As a fellow CEO, I feel for Marissa Mayer. As the leader of Yahoo it was her call to change the company’s work-from-home policy, but what a drag to have to tell hundreds of people that their work life is changing. Dramatically. No more working from home. No more sitting in your undies and your bunny slippers with the occasional dog walk tucked in between conference calls (okay, that's me when I work from home). I don't know the folks at Yahoo, but I'll bet a lot of them are pissed. Pissed because they are really talented and had lots of job options but chose Yahoo because they could work from home. Pissed because they have to commute in crazy traffic now. Pissed because they arranged childcare and the rest of their life around a flexible schedule. Pissed because they were more productive at home than they ever were at work. Pissed because change just makes you pissed. It may be obvious, but there is something worse than leaving your comfy home office for that impersonal cubicle: Losing your job because the company’s declining profitability means it cannot survive. Now that is something to be pissed about. Ms. Mayer believes that one piece of Yahoo’s survival solution is to have everyone rallied in the same place and working together as a team. So she has called everyone into the office to do just that. Will it work? Time will tell, but it sure as hell makes sense to me. And if it does work, I'll bet the reigns will eventually be loosened and people will gradually get their flexible schedules back.

So what are the learnings here? First, leadership often requires tough calls. Unpopular calls. Calls that make you, as the employee, question the direction of the company. I promise that someday you, as the leader, will be in the position of making that tough call. When that happens, you will need to ask yourself if you are thinking about the good of the whole versus the good of the few. And if you are, then make sure you communicate that decision so that people understand the full context of the tough call. The second takeaway is that tough calls force people to evaluate their work and life priorities. In this case, the work-from-home Yahoo employees will have to decide if working for the company is more important than working from home. How would you feel if this happened to you? What choice would you make? Finally, it is okay to be pissed. But when you return to your cubicle, leave the attitude at home with your bunny slippers.