I almost wrote this in full-on rant mode. I almost wrote this two days ago when a blog I write for asked me to cover this story. However, when I shared my point of view, it didn’t exactly mesh with theirs. So I fell back for a day or two to see if I was over-reacting.
Nope. It still gets me fired up and incredibly pissed off. What I am talking about is the CEO of Yahoo, Marissa Mayer, and her ultimatum that people work in the office exclusively – even employees who had negotiated more flexible work arrangements prior. (Whatever happened to honoring commitments?)
In professional services the term “best practice” is thrown around a lot. It is a process or methodology that works well somewhere else and it is considered a smart idea to leverage the best practices of other organizations, whether they are in your industry or not.
Yahoo’s decision smacks of desperation and can arguably be characterized as a “worst practice.” I want to go on record that their top talent will be looking for new jobs and all they will be left with will be these folks.
Adopting a worst practice
If your company is in a tough position and has lost market share, make sure you piss off your employees. Really? This is a major fail on so many levels…
Sending a bad message to employees
My friend Rich Gallagher commented on my Facebook post, “Unreal. Part of me wonders if this is a tacit way of getting rid of people without laying them off. Sad to see a once-great company slide into irrelevance.”
Another comment came from a girlfriend of mine, “I personally have found it difficult to work-at-home as I just don't have the discipline. That being said, I applaud the person(s) who "leaked" the memo. it gives their current work-at-home employees the time to find an appreciative employer that's actually human and offers flexibility and compassion.”
But the most poignant description of what may happen to some Yahoo employees was by Pauline Gaines in Bite me, Marissa Mayer. I don’t have kids, but I can absolutely picture this scenario and I truly feel for these employees.
Taking women (and men) back to the stone age
If a woman does it, can it still be misogynistic? If a man had done that, there would have been screaming from every woman's group in the country about the old boy network and misogynistic policies that are unfriendly to moms and families.
I can only assume that this will not end well.
I really liked this post How Yahoo Took Two Steps Back With One HR Memo by Susie Parker. Maybe Marissa should read the Bell Canada guide on how to make remote working successful? Or even my post on the TDS corporate blog How to manage effective virtual teams.
Misaligning HR policy with the corporate mission
I find it laughable that a technology company is putting policy in place that essentially invalidates the use of technology for their employees. What?
Yes, basically Yahoo is saying that they can’t effectively use technology for product development, team building, etc.
My friend Carol Roth, New York Times bestselling author and CNBC guest contributor was quoted in Is telecommuting dead? Don't count on it, experts say, “I was disappointed to hear about this mandate from Yahoo because they’re a tech company and it’s made us more flexible and allowed us to work from anywhere,” Roth said. “To say that the only way to be connected is if you’re side by side with somebody is completely backward and at odds with their own mission.”
By the way, I work with Carol and manage her blog for her. We work together remotely.
Missing out on a relatively inexpensive company perk
It’s no secret that I am the poster child for working virtually. Every piece of copy about my company talks about Point A to Point B Transitions Inc. being a virtual company. But having worked for many global employers like Arthur Andersen, KPMG, and Deloitte, I can tell you that empowering and equipping employees to work from anywhere boosts productivity and profitability. Check out my post on the TDS blog Give ‘Em What They Want: The Small Perk with the Big Payoff.
The global consultancies did really well last year and saw big revenue gains, Marissa. Maybe you should leverage THAT best practice.