I see this statistic and I'm reminded at how much of a disingenuous uproar the policy change caused. Every time I read comments regarding this issue I'm more convinced the real issue is who issued the policy, and not the change itself.
A new mother canceling work at home while simultaneously raising her own child in the office is not hypocritical. It supports her position. And yes, a private nursery is a perk she receives as CEO.
A CEO gets a nursery: Outrage! CEO gets a private bathroom, private airplane, private car, meetings on the golf course, etc: normal operating procedure. I wonder why the nursery gets singled out for ridicule?
Re childcare, it does seem crude to rub the CEO only nursery in employees faces like she does by having it at the company. I know companies that provide free day care to all employees. If I was an employee like her who wanted my kid around and not in her position, I'd jump ship and go to one of those. Does she go around telling her employees how much more she earns than them as well? I hope not.
From the article:
"people are more productive when they're alone," and then stressed "but they're more collaborative and innovative when they're together. Some of the best ideas come from pulling two different ideas together."
Really? 200 of 12,000 people were the difference between a collaborative environment and a non-collaborative one?
I am willing to accept that their reasons may have been good, and may work for them. I simply disagree with virtually everything that they have chosen to describe as their reasoning.
But Meyer is being criticized for the nursery, a perk which made it more convenient for herself to follow the no-telecommuting policy, not to exempt herself from it.
Or, saying it another way, as a software engineer, you are paid well enough to easily afford your vacation days unpaid. Having paid vacation days for yourself when so many people in the world don't comes across as completely unfair. Would you be willing to work with such a person?
It's got nothing to do with the monetary value of the perk. It's not outlandish, just in terrible taste as both a human and a leader. We work from home for many reasons, and being closer to our families is often one of those reasons. She outlawed WFH in order to have employees focus better on work, the communication clearly being "there is work time, and there is family time, and the twain shan't meet" -- and then promptly built a family-time haven for herself at the office.
That's what makes it offensive. It isn't that employees can't afford to be with their kids -- at least, not the same way that they can't afford a private jet and so forth. The message is, "We all need to buckle down and make sacrifices to rebuild Yahoo!... well, except for me. I can have it all."
You're being obtuse. Obviously, the nursery is getting singled out because of the no-telecommuting policy. The policy conveniently doesn't impact her because she has the ability to build a nursery to address the issue of family time, a luxury her employees don't have. And so she is getting criticized for being inconsiderate of her employees and putting them in a difficult situation that she doesn't have to endure.
The issue isn't having perks as a CEO but using one's position to avoid dealing with a personal situation while expecting employees to make the sacrifice. It's uncompassionate. That seems like a reasonable criticism of a boss.
It's also interesting to see how much of the uproar comes from folk who work at Yahoo (as far as I can tell - none of it.)
The two folk I know who work there, who would both love to telecommute, think the move to ban telecommuting was a really, really good one. They're both smart, driven techie folk who could get a job anywhere. Jobs that would probably pay more than they're getting at Yahoo. They've gone from polishing their resumes and considering resignation a few months back, to totally enthusiasm now.
Whatever Mayer is doing internally from what I can see, from talking to folk who actually work there, it seems to be working.
The nursery is an entirely matter altogether. Without it, you either work from home or find daycare for the baby.
Was the elimination of WFH at Yahoo housecleaning? There have been many reports from former Yahoo insiders that the WFH policy was abused to no end by a small number of people.
I remember there was a large Microsoft layoff a while back during the fallout from the '08 crisis, which insiders also reported to be housecleaning. After all, what better opportunity to cut loose a lot of dead weight the company has accumulated, without incurring the requisite "is the sky falling at Microsoft?" reporting?
Personally I'd rather have people able to work remotely, but flexibility in staid, slow, crufty large corporations is more often a source of abuse rather than actual flexibility. I'm willing to believe that Yahoo's move was justified.
Although I never agreed with these criticisms, I'm annoyed that she apparently said, "I need to talk about the elephant in the room" and then avoided addressing this complaint at all. Unless she did and this was simply bad reporting which omitted any reference to it - I'd appreciate a link to the fill keynote transcript if one exists; I can't seem to find it.
The whole nursery thing also strikes me as a bit of a red herring. Yes, CEOs of multi billion dollar companies taking home million dollar paychecks receive perks that rank and file employees don't get to enjoy. Maybe I'm just complacent, but that doesn't even begin to enter "controversial scandal" territory IMO.
However, I strongly agree with your analysis of her nursery as a CEO perk, which might like her high salary is simply much better than what normal employees have access to. This is why I disagree with the claims of hypocrisy, as I alluded to in my original comment.
I'm not sure I understand your point. Could you please elaborate?
How does working from home avoid the cost of a full-time nanny? If I work when I'm at home then I can't, by definition, take care of my children at the same time.
Assuming a minimal commute, working from home doesn't save hardly any time at all.
Doing it occasionally with a sick child is understandable if it's a rare occurrence. I've done this quite often, but even then I'm always playing catch up at night after they go to bed. It wouldn't be sustainable every day.
Daycare can be $500/week, for the privilege of simply having an adult be near my kid. If telecommuting helps me avoid that cost, it's a significant incentive.
There is just no way you can get proper work done if you are responsible for looking after any kid under the age of 12:)
I agree it may save money and time but I've never seen anyone not have it affect their work. You must be a rare individual:)
Even my four year old was able to take care of herself, playing games, browsing the web and so on. Cooking is the only thing we wouldn't let her do. Or perhaps you mean it's more appealing to hang out with them and play?
It's not your employees' fault you didn't raise your children properly. Kids in Asia are doing hard manual labor on a farm at 7 or 8. They can definitely keep quiet and entertain themselves at that age.
Our telework policy spells that out and working from home to avoid child care is not allowed. I'm not sure how strictly they enforce this -- I don't have kids -- but then they also only allow us to telework one, maybe two, days per week.
That seems more like a rhetorical tactic than a genuine issue? (The hypocrisy, not child care in and of itself.)
I ascribe it to something else; Mayer is a female CEO, which I think causes many people to assign to her responsibility for championing women in the workplace. When she fails to live up to this standard which has been imposed on her, people cry foul.
Another relevant example is her interview awhile back where she mentioned she didn't really consider herself a feminist. This was met with far harsher criticism than I think any man would have received for making the same statement - "Oh really... which of your equal rights do you want to give back?!"
This is why I don't think the claims of hypocrisy are just a rhetorical tactic. People are genuinely disappointed in her failure to live up to the standards they've imposed on her, which they imagine that as a female CEO she has also set for herself and is implicitly broadcasting to the world.
Edit: Not that I really have an opinion on the policy as it applies to Yahoo specifically.
If it was a contractual employment condition negotiated before joining the company, then there wouldn't be complaints, there'd be breach-of-contract lawsuits.
"Our policy is X", "Okay, cool, I'd like to work somewhere with that policy" isn't a negotiation for a benefit that the employer is obligated to continue to provide.
Look at Ron Johnson, for example. His genius did wonders for Apple but the same concepts failed with a different industry in his tenure with JCPenney. There's no silver bullet, and what Mayer's doing with Yahoo may have some similarities with what was done early on with Google, but in order to cement Yahoo's independent identity, she's going to have to pursue some goals that aren't identical to things she's done before.
Ending WFH is perhaps a start. The externalities (noisy lashback from media, etc.) don't help, but she's going to have to face a lot more of that in order to institute long-lasting change.
So what you're telling me is that only 1.6% of the company's employees WFH at all? Or is this 1.6% who work remotely in the usual case? I highly doubt only 200 employees take regular WFH days. I'd expect to get one or two if needed a week, so I'd suspect this impacts a LOT more people than she admits.
> ..but they're more collaborative and innovative when they're together.
So e-mail, chat, hangouts/skype, voip, etc. don't exist, as far as Yahoo is concerned? Collaboration does not require physical proximity. And if it's only 200 people who are working remotely, why is a mere 1.6% of the company making a DRAMATIC difference to collaboration and innovation within the company? I'm seeing a contradiction here.
I still maintain my stance on this move: it's a horribly shortsighted and poorly/hastily made decision which will negatively impact Yahoo significantly more than anyone expects. If someone is abusing a lenient policy, you ban that individual from working remotely, not the entirety of your company. What a massive overreaction.
"Do not exist" isn't required for the claim to be valid; "are not as effective as face-to-face, in the room communication at facilitating collaboration" is sufficient. And, a fairly widely recognized fact.
For the record, I completely disagree. For instance, personality would likely dictate what the most effective method would be on an individual basis, so that no general claim can be accurate.
I've personally been involved in collaboration over e-mail that was more productive than most meetings I've ever taken part in. I've never thought "this sucks, we should be doing this meeting in person," but I have thought the opposite many times.
No, actually, you don't. Even they are even, in aggregate, even marginally less effective than face-to-face, they are a net loss to collaboration.
> I've personally been involved in collaboration over e-mail that was more productive than most meetings I've ever taken part in.
Sure, for lots of things, email is a better choice than a meeting. You can easily do email with people being in the same office building. OTOH, there are things where a quick face-to-face is more effective, and you can't do that when people are telecommuting.
Implicit is the assumption that high-bandwidth collaboration is necessary and useful to all people in all functions at all times.
A designer might just need to crank out a PSD without 30 people dropping by their cube. A programmer might want to work on their tickets (which were created with collaboration) without talking to anyone.
Or, like you said, there may be some meetings where being f2f is better. It happens a lot. I schedule my wfh around my meeting days, usually.
No, implicit is the assumption that high-bandwidth collaboration may become important to the roles of the people affected by the policy on short notice, not that it is necessary to all people in all functions at all times.
I'm willing to entertain the idea, but I'm not even sure your "it might be needed" explanation is true for BigCo's... look at the proliferation of open office plans, for example. COLLABORATION 24/7, YAY!
It is fair to say that what works for one company will not work for another. Therefore it cannot represent an opinion on the industry as a whole.
Just remember, MOST employers in the country DON'T OFFER work from home at all. Or of the do offer it, it is primarily for sales people.. That are never actually "at home". This whole thing is a top 10% problem.. Only the top richest companies offer top employees these type of options.
Now child care and commuting is a DIFFERENT problem. Perhaps Yahoo doesn't need all its staff in crazy expensive trendy cities. They could relocate some offices out to other places property values and commute times are more reasonable... But that is for another time.
I admire Mayer a lot for having the cojones to say, "This isn't necessarily right for everyone, but it was right for us."