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Marissa Mayer had nursery built near office before work-from-home ban (financialpost.com)
47 points by protomyth 1604 days ago | hide | past | web | 87 comments | favorite

Is it a foregone conclusion that others can't bring a baby to work?

My biz partner brought his newborn in for about 10 months - it was awesome. Given, we are a tiny company and they are Yahoo, but its not obvious to me that its impossible to work it out.

So I'm glad M. Meyer is doing so, I think that's kind of awesome. The kid will probably have a great time. Maybe there's a way to let others do it too.

Where I work, it's perfectly acceptable for people to bring their children in. But it would be impossible for me to get anything done if I brought my two kids in, other than taking care of my kids while they're here. It's also disruptive to the other people here, so out of deference and sheer common sense I don't bring them in.

Other companies provide a day care service, which I hope becomes a bigger trend. Goldman Sachs has one that employees have a certain number of days that they're entitled to.

I too am glad that Marissa is doing this. She, like every parent I know, is trying to find a work-life balance, and she is in the privileged position of being able to do it her own way.

> ... But it would be impossible for me to get anything done if I brought my two kids in

The University of Houston has a day care that is operated by the Psychology Dept. It is very well regarded, and quite a nice perk for employees (except for its limited capacity). The center is housed in a separate building, so there are no uninvited disruptions, except the ones that are universal to every day care (injury / accident, etc.). It wouldn't be the sort of thing that a small shop could do, but a company the size of Yahoo! could put such a day care in (maybe they already have?), and potentially save the company and employees considerable time and money.

I can see that working at a very small company where all of the employees are good friends and spend a lot of time together.

But I'm hard pressed to think of anything that would make me leave a company faster than having all of my coworkers brats running around all day.

A lot of people feel uncomfortable having stranger's children around them.

A baby less than 10 months old does not "run around". Unless they're colicky or sick, very young babies are not hard to keep quiet: if they're crying they're either hungry, tired, under-stimulated, over-stimulated, hot or cold or otherwise uncomfortable. You identify the problem, fix it, and they stop crying. It may prevent you from working, but it shouldn't bother your coworkers. They should certainly be a lot less annoying than the guy next to you chatting on the telephone.

Between 10-18 months they start walking, start getting "opinionated", get a lot louder, stop napping continuously, and so on and would totally disrupt an office.

I'll take your word for it on babies less than 10 months old. But the CEO paid for a nursery to be built in her office, so there's a good chance she'll have him around the office for longer than just the first 10 months.

Now that I think about it more, the only situation where I would be okay with people bringing their kids to work whenever they wanted would be if everybody had private offices. If people's kids were locked in their offices with them 95% of the time, and I could close my door and keep them away the other 5% of the time, I wouldn't have any reason to be against it.

If people started bringing babies to work I wouldn't care too much about them making the worst sound known to man constantly when they are upset because I have spent hundreds of dollars on noise isolating earbuds to block out my already-annoying environment.

However if there were babies here I would kind of hate it. A lot. I would probably complain daily until either I get fired or they quit or they are forced to put their baby in a dumpster or wherever they put babies they dont' want to have around these days.

> "Is it a foregone conclusion that others can't bring a baby to work?"

That was also my thought but I looked at the original article too [1]. It seems that this is (currently) a perk that she made for herself (with her own money) and that the situation is unchanged for Yahoo employees.

"Yahoo ... offers the typical Dependent Day Care Flexible Spending Account, where staff can pay 'dependent care expenses, such as day care or after-school care, with pre-tax dollars.'"

Doesn't mean that it couldn't change for all employees, but I can imagine the costs would be significant.

[1] http://allthingsd.com/20130225/survey-says-despite-yahoo-ban...

Edit: I should state that I made an implicit assumption that this is a private/personal daycare facility near the Yahoo buildings.

Sounds like a typical daycare and the costs associated with that no?

The more I look into this story (albeit half-heartedly) the more confused I am.

I'm not clear on exactly where this nursery is. In the Yahoo office? A building next door? Private just for her kid or can anyone sign up?

However it's set up, this PR fallout seem obvious in hindsight (should be obvious in foresight too).

I'm a founder at a startup with four people in the office. I tried to bring my baby to work when he was three months, and got absolutely nothing done. I think he's happier in daycare anyway, he gets to have more fun there instead of me constantly trying to get him to be quiet so I can work.

Is this article trying to make Mayer look like a hypocrite? She had a nursery built near her office because she planned to work at the office, not from home.

Unlike Ms. Mayer, the average Yahoo! line employee cannot afford to have a nursery built near the office so they can come into the office while still having their baby right at hand. So the "everyone comes into the office" edict falls on them a little harder than it does on her.

It doesn't make her look like a hypocrite, in other words, as much as it makes her look like an out-of-touch, clueless plutocrat.

We're calling people nasty names for making their employees come to work now? Wow.

No, we're calling them nasty names for setting up "coming in to work" to mean one thing for them and another thing for their employees, and then saying "Why is everyone complaining? I have to come in to work too!"

The "everyone comes into the office" edict probably doesn't affect child care. If you have kids, you probably have already arranged for other types of care for them.

If you choose to work from home and think you can take care of your kids at the same time, then bully for you.

But if you think that changing diapers, changing clothes, breast feeding, and cleaning up vomit for your kid and giving them activities to keep them from climbing the walls is easy, then I've got a bridge to sell you.

Ms. Mayer is at least trying to do this and run a company. She may be out of touch, but she's trying.

I tried to do freelance development from home after our first child was born and my wife went back to work after her 3 months off. Even with a non-mobile baby there was no way to be productive. Young children need attention. You can't just put them down on a blanket and expect them to be happy. And once they start walking, forgettaboutit.

I would think that any employee saying that they can give a full workday working from home and watching young children at the time is not being truthful.

Sure, when they're older and don't need to be watched constantly, but if I turn my back for more than a minute I'll find our 1 year old playing with an electrical outlet or trying to eat something he shouldn't.

>But if you think that changing diapers, changing clothes, breast feeding, and cleaning up vomit for your kid and giving them activities to keep them from climbing the walls is easy, then I've got a bridge to sell you.

Maybe nurse-maids are about to make a comeback.

You can hire someone to do all of those other things, except breast-feeding; where your options are to feed or to pump. Employees who choose to breastfeed still receive the periodic disruptions in absence of the baby's immediate proximity.

> Maybe nurse-maids are about to make a comeback.


Sure you can hire someone to delegate parenthood to. But that just underscores my point that working at home is nearly impossible if you need to care for your children by yourself.

Note: This isn't a personal-gold-plated-one-baby-only daycare. There is nowhere in the article stating this daycare can't be used by all employees.

There is also nowhere in the article stating that it can. The only things we know about it are that it is "next to her office" and that she paid for it with her own personal funds.

Do either of these sound like a setup for a common area to you? Or do they sound like the CEO redecorating their office suite?

"Next to her office" can mean next to the large building owned by Yahoo that all employees drive to, that she also happens to reside in.

Also this article is trying to make her look bad because everyone is poo pooing that she is making everyone drive to work to turn around the company. I'll believe the daycare is only for her and her alone, while also denying anyone else the ability to use a Yahoo run daycare when I actually see it.

Would Yahoo be willing to give other employees the opportunity to build a nursery inside their office space? Likely not. The article is contrasting the resources that Mayer has and that her employees do not in light of their ban on telecommuting.

Why do these angered employees think it's reasonable to compare themselves to the CEO of the company, who is trying to pull said company from a deep shit that it is in.

Right, she's so selfless and noble! All she's getting out of it is a mere half a million dollars a week.

You make that sound remarkably selfless of her, as she heroically arrives and tries to save the day, the ungrateful slobs unwilling to see what is good for them.

I looked at his comment multiple times and it looks like you're trying your very hardest to put words in his mouth.

All he said was that it's odd that rank and file employees expect the same perks as the CEO. I think that's a very reasonable statement.

if the CEO get's a personal assistant would every other employee expect one?

Considering that she just took away a big perk from everyone (and one that is very common in the industry), it's not crazy to wonder whether she'll try to make it up in some other way.

Especially given the difficulty of arranging good quality child care on short notice.

Accepting the real differences in benefits for a CEO versus everyone else, or the options available to someone with a lot of money, is completely rational and hard to dispute.

It was specifically the "who is trying to pull said company from a deep shit that it is in" bit that turned it from reality to emotional. Meyer is at Yahoo because she saw that as being in her own personal best interests. She isn't there out of altruism.

A more accurate description is probably:

Why do these angered plebs think it's reasonable to compare themselves to the CEO of the company, who paid with her own money to have privileges they can't afford anyways.

Ah, yes, the Myth of the Heroic CEO. Remember when investment bankers thought they were Masters of the Universe?

They are Masters of the Universe. Have you ever seen how much attention public company CEO's pay to analyst reports by 20-somethings not that long out of school?

Point being is that Yahoo is in a bad situation and, if you followed earlier coverage, she was indeed hired to "save the day".

If this were a company awash with cash, then - yes, denying perks to others while granting herself one would've been a "dick move". Alas, this is not Mojang, but Yahoo and it wasn't a champagne bubble bath that she installed, but something that would let her spend more time at work.

Maternity leave is not remote working. Women should have the right to take lengthy maternity leaves without the fear of corporate ostracizing.

The ban on remote working will hurt the moms and dads of Yahoo the most.

- The US is the only industrialized nation not to mandate paid leave for mothers of newborns

- The US is one of only three nations — the other two being Papua New Guinea and Swaziland - that doesn't guarantee job-protected time off with some amount of income after the birth of a child

- New parents in the U.S. are guaranteed their jobs for 12 weeks after the arrival of a new baby, thanks to the Family Medical Leave Act of 1993, but they do not have to be paid during that time and exemptions apply for small companies.

- Only two states in the country, California and New Jersey, offer six weeks of paid family leave to men and women who are caregivers. Unfortunately, the state leaves are not job-guaranteed

- Afghanistan provide new mothers with 12 weeks off with pay. The Democratic Republic of Congo, one of the poorest nations in the world, offers mothers 15 weeks off with full pay.

- UK provides 90% pay for 280 days, Russia 100% pay for 140 days, Spain & France & Netherlands 100% pay for 112 days, Germany 100% pay for 98 days, China 100% pay for 90 days

[1] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/04/maternity-leave-pai...

[2] http://www.theatlantic.com/sexes/archive/2012/12/why-paid-le...

[3] http://www.forbes.com/sites/work-in-progress/2012/05/23/3-re...

Having a nursery built next to your office is not maternity leave, it's a work-life balance perk that she's affording herself which isn't available to other Yahoos.

Well, no, but neither is her compensation. If the board thinks her compensation inappropriate, it can deal with it.

Unlike all those other perks that executives receive that other employees don't?

The context of the situation is important, in the wake of her recent decision about working from home.

"Women should have the right to take lengthy maternity leaves without the fear of corporate ostracizing."

They do in the US: http://fmlaonline.com/fmla-pregnancy/

Before you reply with potential handwaving theoretical issues with it, bear in mind I am answering your point as written: They do indeed have the right to take leave without fear. It may be infringed, but it does exist and redress is available if infringement can be proved to a judge's satisfaction.

> Women should have the right to take lengthy maternity leaves

And the cost should be borne by single men.

Screw you, seriously. You want to remove childbearers from the workforce? You want to reduce everyone's employment experiences by diminishing the market of employees and ideas? You want your ten bucks a year so that you can say you don't support single mothers (note -- extensive public health research demonstrates that productivity and well-being of women of child-bearing age is the best indicator of the overall health of a society)?

Why should society give you anything at all? Why should my tax dollars go towards protecting you from crime, or paying your emergency room bills? And I mean you, specifically, not people in general -- if you don't want to contibute to make everyone's lot better, why should anyone give a crap about you, or for that matter your opinions?

I see I hit a sore spot. I don't really want to remove childbearers from the workforce, but I do want a frank discussion about who bears the costs. Actually, just an admission of the inherent injustice of the system would be nice. Ten bucks a year? Screw you. I pay roughly 70% of my income in taxes every year.

And holy thoughtcrime Batman! Despite paying tens of thousands of dollars every year in taxes, all government services should be denied to me just because of my opinions?


Small price to pay for the continuation of the species.

Quit your whining. Maybe they should build a nursery for the single men, too.

Single men who never had a mother then.

Yeah, dudes who intend to never reproduce should get some sort of tax credit as long as they submit to a sterilization procedure.

And promise never to collect Social Security...

The tax credits and possible cost of guaranteed time off with pay for having children is nothing compared to the immense cost of raising children that will pay future taxes to allow for the continuance of government and government services.

Comments like this make me think that the cost should indeed be borne by single men, exclusively.

I don't think you've thought that through. A straight-out bachelor tax would simply make bachelors work less. Tax revenue would fall, and there would be even less money for you leftists to redistribute to women.

No, but... just for a while... just to spite them...

I've read a lot of outrage about this, particularly around the hypocrisy of having a nursery while forcing others to come into the office with no comparable perk.

Problem for me is, I actually don't think there's any moral imperative for Yahoo to make life easier for working parents or people who have some need to telecommute. It may make good business sense - Richard Branson certainly seems to think it does, but that's not a moral issue, it's a strategic one. If good employees who have options no longer wish to work for yahoo, they will leave.

I do think Yahoo managed this poorly from a PR perspective. I think it would have been wiser to announce Yahoo's plans to make the campus a perfect place to be, with everything a working parent could want. Play up the daycare, gym, dry cleaning. If they're not doing this, start a plan or two and make a big deal about it. I'm speaking cynically here, this is about managing the press. I'd rather it were sincere, of course, but this is PR we're talking about.

> Problem for me is, I actually don't think there's any moral imperative for Yahoo to make life easier for working parents or people who have some need to telecommute.

It's not any more or less of a moral imperative than having bathrooms. It's a concession to the structure of human society, and is arguably moral in that sense.

I'd like to start by saying that I do agree with you that some basic rules about the relationship between employer and employee reach the level of "moral imperative" and should be codified in law. "At will" employment is a big part of this (if you don't like it, you leave), but I certainly do agree that there should be some legally enforced rules around this.

So the only real disagreement we have is where to draw the line. Do you really put the right to telecommute on the same moral level as having a place to pee or time off to go to the bathroom?

I don't disagree with anything you've said, just pointing out that it's an arguable point.

I think child care is more important than corporate America perceives it to be. It is the thing perpetuating the pay disparity between men and women in white collar jobs.

I wish people would give this a rest already. This is getting old fast.

To her credit, she probably has the toughest and most scrutinized job in the technology industry right now. Every action she takes will have hoards of supporters and nay-sayers. Kudos to her for actually being bold and ignoring the noise.

The big stacks of money she's being paid, and the enormous golden handshake she'll receive even if she runs Yahoo! into the ground, probably help with that.

I am not unconvinced the turning off the WFH was not a stealth layoff.

Nice triple negative. I think there's an element of layoff about it, but comments from ex-Yahoos about lax work culture in remote employees might well mean it's the best thing to do. Especially when your management clearly can't work well with remoters and no longer has a clear direction.

Remote work is great if there's good communication both ways. If not, it's throwing money into a bottomless pit.

Sounds like they should have laid off management then. :)

If they just need to decrease headcount, they can completely move the conversation to WFH vs NOWFH instead of "why are they laying off people" by canceling it.

I'm going to bet MM doesn't necessarily think WFH is bad at all, it was just an easy layoff.

It's partially a stealth layoff.

Why is the disgusting media leaking into HackerNews?

The same reason we have comments like this : http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5299756

On the one hand, what Mayer does with her money is her business. It is actually kind of nice that she built a nursery for her kid - it shows that she is taking her parental duties seriously (unlike most CEOs who get tunnel-visioned into their work and ignore their families).

On the other hand, it would have been nice if she petitioned the Yahoo! board to spend company resources to build a larger nursery, one that can be used by regular employees. That way, it would have come across as, "we are eliminating the work-from-home perk for everyone, but we understand that this is tough for employees with young children, so we built this nursery they can use free of charge." That would paint her as a no-bullshit CEO who is also attuned to the family-related needs of her employees.

Well where are the details about the nursery? Is it just for her? If it's available for all employees you could rewrite the headline:

Mayer builds Nursery for employees' children to compensate (in advance!) for loss of remote working.

Since the nursery is literally "next to her office" (see http://allthingsd.com/20130225/survey-says-despite-yahoo-ban...), and she paid for it out of her own pocket, it seems highly unlikely that it's intended for community use.

Oh. That does seem likely to cause resentment.

It might look like a stupid decision, but I think the true reason isn't as obvious as "people working at home don't work".

fact is people have kids & that's just life. If M wants to make Yahoo a more attractive place to work & get the most from her employees then build a dam child-care facility on site / at the office so that every employee can use it - take care of your employees common life requirements so that they are free to focus on building the best products & not about what time they need to leave to beat the traffic & pick up the kids.

My wife's reaction: "it's great, but [she] should have built on-site daycare for everyone to use." (Profanity edited).

This is a horrible criticism: Marissa Mayer is the CEO of Yahoo. She can do whatever the hell she wants.

What is your argument? That those who are adversely affected should go and get CEO jobs themselves? Yeah! Let's all be CEO. In this country we have a long established right established in the principle that everyone can speak their mind. If Marissa Mayer's feelings are hurt, she can wipe away her tears with freshly printed one-hundred Dollar bills. But, one thing she absolutely does not have is the right to live a life free of criticism.

No, she can't. Yahoo is a publicly traded company. If her policies lead to excellent talent leaving to work at a place with better perks, either giving Y!'s competitors an advantage, or leaving Y! themselves at a disadvantage, it is the board's and stockholders' duty to show her the door.

She paid for it right out of her own pocket... would there have been equal outrage if she had instead hired a nanny? What about if she had just put her kid in a regular daycare?

I look at this latest story and think about it in context when Yahoo switched their employees to iPhones and Androids, which was well received as I understand it. Other perks put in place also helped boost the morale of the rank-and-file a little bit. But it appears she thinks about morale and vibe as quantifiable, something that can be managed relative to the available morale quotient that she can tap.

If this is part of an overall strategy, Mayer looks like someone who only knows how to manage things on paper using spreadsheets. I'm sure she's trying to replicate many of the successful approaches she took at Google, but Google and Yahoo are not the same.

This nursery story just adds to my impression of her that she's tone-deaf to how her actions affect the organization.

That's excellent, so Yahoo! employees have access to a nursery at the work-site? That sounds like a reasonable thing to do after revoking the work-from-home policy on short notice.

Mayer is not there to clock hours or save Yahoo with her brilliant ideas. You don't hire a pregnant CEO to get things done. Yahoo has to take a number of unpopular actions in order to get back into the game. Remote workers tend to be mediocre workers and they need to go. So do others.

Mayer is there to absorb and deflect criticism during Yahoo's readjustment period. For various reasons, people don't like to criticize her, and when they do, they aren't criticizing Yahoo. She'll continue to slash and burn for a couple of years, and then she'll be gone, leaving Yahoo with a sort-of-clean reputation.

I'm not sure about your "Remote workers tend to be mediocre workers" bit. I think that mediocre workers tend to be mediocre workers, whether working from home or office. If a person has a good work-ethic, they will choose the correct environment for themselves.

But the rest of it sounds at least plausible, if not likely.

This is some extraordinary claim. Do you have any extraordinary evidence besides her pregnancy?

She was sidelined at Google for years and basically forced out. Despite that, and despite her pregnancy, Yahoo still hired her. Every indication is that she is at Yahoo as an Image CEO.

Further, the only thing that makes my claim "extraordinary" is that Mayer is someone who garnered elect status on HN shortly after her tenure at Yahoo began. A similar (though opposite) phenomena was the story yesterday about Mark Pincus, which generated a lot of heat for saying something positive about one of HN's "damned" personalities.

Not to mention the fact that she _IS_ getting a lot of criticism (and she's not even pregnant anymore...)

Why do I feel like I've never read about Yahoo's CEO before it was Marissa Mayer? Is it because she's a woman?

Way to jump to conclusions of sexism against all evidence... Carol Bartz (former CEO of Yahoo) was also a woman. The reason you hear about Marissa Mayer a lot is because she had a sudden, high-profile transfer from Google to Yahoo, and had high expectations by some of making big changes at Yahoo in an attempt to turn them around (as well as expressing the intent to do so).

I'm CEO bitch.

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