I had very little work to do. Period. End of statement. I spent most of my time doing practically nothing except playing ping pong and foosball and getting paid for it. A lot of my coworkers and a lot of Yahoos were in the same boat. Needless to say, that once the Microsoft acquisition failed and the layoffs started happening, most of us were out of there.
On top of that, there was very much a prima donna attitude around Yahoo, with a great deal of self-entitlement. I remember a couple of threads on devel-random complaining about the lack of ping pong balls, and how that insulted us as Yahoos since it meant that management didn't trust us. Oh the humanity of not providing everyone with $2 worth of ping pong balls!
Yahoo was filled with lazy workers, and an extremely fat layer of lazy management. I vaguely remember Rasmus running a script that calculated around 70 employees per VP. As well, the internal politics at Yahoo was astounding. One of my friends worked on an iPhone app on his own free time, and when he tried to get approval, it was held up for months because people were arguing over things like color schemes, and which group should own the app. It was pathetic.
I like what Marisa Mayer is doing. I think by getting rid of some privileges like remote working, it is enforcing a discipline that hasn't been at Yahoo, at least during the years that I was there. Showing up to work is a small price to pay for being paid a great wage and having the opportunity to work for what will hopefully become a first class company again. People need to show up and work and interact with their peers, instead of hiding at home and people not knowing wtf is going on with them. Sure, some people will quit, but quite bluntly, anyone worth their salt would have already left Yahoo by now. Anyone who is happy working in the environment that was Yahoo over the past 5 years is not an A player by any stretch, so it's safe to assume that you can afford to lose them.
Contrary to the flame-baiting you might see, Marissa is making some progress in turning Yahoo back into a desirable place to work again. I'm hearing from good engineers I know at respectable companies that have either considered it after talking to recruiters or have actually accepted offers. I suspect there is some method to the madness around the remote working policy - we'll just have to see over the long run what shakes out of it.
Give people work, set goals, and hold them accountable. You can't get a completed app approved and on the street in months? Fire the managers involved. Somebody complains that they don't have ping pong balls? Take away the ping pong table.
Stopping remote work will not improve performance. Firing poor performers is the solution, not chaining them to their desk.
Firing is always messy business. It's a good idea to avoid it unless it is absolutely necessary.
If I have a few bad apples (the lazy, self-entitled employees of a previous post) and they're not responding to being held accountable, the whole staff needs to know I will use all tools available.
Frankly, if you manage properly, there's very little firing you have to do. Most bad employees, when they see you hold people accountable, will find another job. The only ones who stick around are the one's who are holding out for unemployment.
Ah but you're not just chopping off the right edge of the bell curve, you're shifting the entire curve to the left. A non-innovative company like yahoo can trivially survive shedding the innovators, but can't survive a system wide forklift downgrade.
Maybe "in this economy" they could have gotten a C- grade dude who needs to work at home on Fridays for whatever reason, well, now they'll be lucky to get a D+ grade dude.