Defending telecommute ban


Cartoon by Joshua Boley

Yahoo Chief Executive Officer Marissa Mayer is catching some flak this week.

Mayer recently announced to her 12,000 plus employees that, starting in June, they would no longer have the option of telecommuting.

Mayer stressed the importance of “hallway and cafeteria discussions” and generally being under one roof for the good of the company, but more than a couple of people have taken her action as hypocritical, backwards and anti-feminist.

First of all, Yahoo is Marissa Mayer’s company. She has all the responsibility; she should have all the deciding power.

Second, the fact that this is being made out to be a gender issue at all shows how woefully behind society is. The policy is not restricted to new mothers, or even to women, for that matter. It’s all Yahoo employees.

While telecommuting may be convenient for new mothers in particular, it could also afford a new dad, or any other man, some conveniences. This is not a gender issue.

Furthermore, how could one work from home and simultaneously look after a newborn anyway? It’s hard to believe that the same quality of work is getting done at home while doing just that as is in the office. This is why there are laws allowing new parents extended parental leave from work in the first place.

Once past those issues, it comes down to the bottom line. Clearly, Mayer doesn’t have faith in the popularized idea that employees are more productive when working from home. How could they be?

It’s far easier to get distracted with something not work-related when the boss isn’t right down the hall.

Sure, Skype, phone and email can connect a person to the office in a way, but it’s just not the same. This is not to say that nothing can or does get done when people telecommute. The idea is fine; the uproar over the fact that someone simply doesn’t agree with it is what’s crazy.

It’s hard to understand how people can demonize Mayer for her decision. Disagree? Fine.

That’s one thing. Who has never disagreed with the boss? But don’t go around turning this into something it’s not.

Some expect many Yahoo employees to walk away from the company solely due to this policy change.

Based on the effectiveness with which Mayer has helped Yahoo bounce back from its mid-2000s revenue slump, that may be exactly what she wanted: cutbacks without cutting back. Those folks won’t be out of work long, either. Google has already said it wouldn’t hesitate to pluck some of the talent.

Think outside the box, people.

Marissa Mayer might just be a genius.