Tuesday, February 26, 2013

You Want Me to Do What??

Thought Number One:  There's going to be some changes made.

In the past two days, I have seen portions of three interviews with Marissa Mayer, the CEO and President of  Yahoo .  Marissa is currently in the news because of a policy change that many feel is unfair, if not, positively primeval.  As the youngest CEO of a Fortune 500 company, she has the reputation for being a notorious workaholic and, if one is to believe in the chatter on Twitter and Facebook...Marissa seems to be setting woman's rights back to the 1950's....actually according to Forbes, it is setting it back to the Stone Age.

So what is behind all the brouhaha at Yahoo!?  Marissa is rounding up the employees and mandating that they come to work.  She is doing away with telecommuting.  A memo sent out by Jackie Reses, the chief of HR,  that says in part:

To become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side. That is why it is critical that we are all present in our offices. Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings. Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home. We need to be one Yahoo! and that starts with physically being together.

Marissa did not start off her reign at Yahoo! on the best foot,  as she only took only two weeks off for her maternity leave.  In a culture that is wanting longer  maternity and paternity leaves as well as flexibility to work around their families, it would seem that Marissa is rankling more than a few Yahooians.(I don't think that is really a word..but let's pretend it is.)

Hundreds of staffers now are in the position of deciding whether to work at the office or look for a different job...and they don't like it one little bit.

It really shouldn't  have been a huge surprise for Marissa to pull in the troops.  She comes from the ranks of Google corporation.  Companies such as Google and Facebook have created work environments to encourage  employees to come together. They believe the interaction sparks brain-storming, innovation and inspiration. They have designed their work spaces to be comfortable and fun as well as offering amenities such as gourmet meals, dry cleaning service, haircuts, gyms and swimming pools and day care.

When people ask how many Google employees telecommute, Chief Financial Officer Patrick Pichette told an Australian tech audience last week, he replies, "As few as possible."

So while Marissa's new policy doesn't actually go into effect until June, it is stirring up a fierce debate on the Internet.  A tech blog All Things D has run several articles with both opponents and proponents weighing in on the controversy.  According to All Things D, sources within the company said Marissa was irked to see how slow the parking lots fills up on any given day and how quickly it empties in the afternoon. There are those that believe that perhaps the employees have taken advantage of the system and now have to come together to reinvent a company that has gotten complacent.

Maybe not all those employees affected would agree, however.  One staffer's email  said," When a working mother is standing behind this, you know we are a long way from a culture that will honor the thankless sacrifices that women too often make." 

Thought Number Two:  A CEO has to do what a CEO has to do

While the debate rages on, concerning the whether this new policy is anti-mom or if it is some devious method of getting rid of under productive employees without the hassle of layoffs, Yahoo has seen improvements since Marissa has taken over.  The stock has gone up substantially and major changes have taken place on the Yahoo web site.  Perhaps..right or wrong...it's her call... HOW she plans on  turning  an under-performing company into a better, bigger, brighter YAHOO!.

As I am a person that works out of a home office and my husband works sporadically out of a home office, I can see the pros and cons of working at a workplace and the convenience of working at home.  I do think for me I am more productive when I am in the office...but that's just me. The fact I am sitting here typing a blog and drawing little cartoons might be an indicator of my productive use of my time, heh?  Maybe the answer is the productivity of the employee and what the company sets as the employee's goals.

It does have "hierarchy" in it's name. ....although, I am not at all clear what any of that means. This odd and rather long name was coined in 1994 by two electrical engineering PhD candidates at Stanford University: David Filo and Jerry Yang.

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Chubby Chatterbox said...

I feel sorry for anyone who went to work for Yahoo on the assumption they could work from home and now the conditions of their employment are being changed midstream. Doesn't seem fair.

Cheryl P. said...

I read at least a dozen articles about how this was being received and more than a few sources pointed out that perhaps this should have been done in the manner of reviewing everyone's position and how it worked within the organization...rather than make it a blanket policy. Ultimately, though, in this economy there will be lines of people that want to work at Yahoo!s office with its free lunches, smart phones and dry cleaners...so Marissa will have her in-house workforce. But you are right, this isn't what the telecommuters signed up for so they are being dissed.

Riot Kitty said...

I think it's obnoxious to change the game; however, I've known some people who "work at home" and don't really work that much. So it's debatable. But doesn't she have anything better to do than watch the parking lot? Has it occurred to her that some of these people may be going to client meetings? Jesus.

Kathleen Barca said...

I loved this. You are so right on.

LOve and Blessings,

Jo-Anne said...

Go to the office indeed who would had thought how dare she suggest such a thing.......lol

lisleman said...

I just read an article on this today. I totally disagree with the CEO's approach on this. Employees should be treated and respected as adults. If they are not getting the work done to the companies satisfaction then there are many corrective options available. I've worked projects for my whole career. Meetings are a necessary evil but today's technology (that this is a tech company is even more ironic) allows remote teams to meet. The trend I've seen is online meetings between teams spread over various countries (especially India and China). I'm certain Yahoo has India and China offices. How do those teams interact with the US based workers? Since you mentioned working from home, I'm surprised you are not more critical of this.

Cheryl P. said...

You're right about aspects of this being debatable. I think each employee's role within the organization needs to be reviewed before making a mandate like that. There may be a need to pull some people in from the field but maybe some telecommuters are thriving and are uber-productive. Why demoralize the masses in an effort to make each employee tow to some rigid rule? All the articles point out the fact she is a workaholic which no doubt means she wants everyone to work at her level of devotion. Not realistic.

Cheryl P. said...

This is such a unique problem in the workplace. It wasn't until the last decade or so that working at home was even viable. I am not sure that Marissa isn't being too aggressive by ordering all the previous telecommuters to travel into the office but the notion of the woman that say it's unrealistic or unfair...that not entirely true either. Women have gone off to work in the past and managed it.

Cheryl P. said...

I see both sides of the coin on this one. Marissa is from the Google organization and over there roam around and visit with each other...brainstorm, create things in groups. They have created a fun environment with gyms and ping-pong matches. I can see where Marissa has seen how well that works and is wanting to duplicate it. Yahoo has gone the other way with an environment that doesn't work in teams, they don't foster interaction (or at least not in the past) and they have floundered. BUT I don't like how she handled this at all. She could of evaluated which divisions could be enhanced by teamwork and which do well with independent tasks.

As for working at home myself....I actually don't feel that I am nearly as productive working at home as in an office. My company has done away with office space and encourages us to home office. We can go in and use equipment and such but basically it's cheaper for them to not to provide office space. That is a trend, I understand it. I do think that having co-workers to talk to and throw ideas out with, keeps employees engaged and focused.

Again...to be clear...I don't think this was handled well especially in the respect of keeping the company morale up. For a sweeping change like this the employees needed NOT to be blindsided by an internal memo AND the added threat of like it or leave it does more harm than good.

Trina said...

I found that when I work from home on "office work" I tend to be more lax about it. I get bored and wander from my desk, get hungry and wander to the fridge, or I tend to get to my desk late and leave early. I support her decision and believe that for jobs like those required at Yahoo! would be better when at the ffice surrounded by people who are working on "the same page"

Cheryl P. said...

Hi AngelBaby!!! Hasn't everything in our society gotten complicated? I think they need to run that second video that was on your post today at every company in America. A real positive "feel good" video about working together.

Wolfbernz said...

Hi Cheryl,
I can't see how her decision would be a bad one. Working from an office is a tried and true method for getting work done and when you're actually at the office I can see that being a more productive day all around.
Clicks for you!

Cheryl P. said...

I am more lax at home as well. There are more distractions also. The mail gets delivered...something ticks me off... a call comes in that is about non-work items. UGH. I suppose some jobs at Yahoo! such as finding statistical data absolutely could be done from home BUT I do understand where some jobs of a more creative endeavor would benefit from working among other creative people. Some of the comments by women claiming this was sexist or anti-mom doesn't exactly fit. This new policy will make it less family friendly but the work place needs to accommodate both genders and all kinds of family units...kids or no kids. There is just no way to please everyone.

I don't think Marissa handled this well though. Really an internal memo without at least discussing it with the various departments. I would think some of the other senior management and middle management want some say in the company's direction.

Cheryl P. said...

You bring up an interesting point. Most of the staffers that were interviewed complained that this was holding women back from career advancement because it's difficult to work outside the home while raising families. I agree it isn't the easiest thing to do but computers haven't been around all that long. Telecommuting is relatively new in the workplace. Men and women have been hauling themselves to actual workplaces for a LLLLOOOONNNNNGGGGG time.

I think the way it was handled wasn't the best.

oldereyes said...

You'd probably be surprised to hear from someone that's worked from home for 14 years that I'm inclined to agree with Marissa Mayer's decision, although she could perhaps be a little more flexible (maybe allowing a telecommute on selected days or on certain projects that don't require collaboration). In my years in big industry, it became clear to me that many employees don't work full time even at work although they become good at looking busy ... with no supervision, they work even less. And I've missed the sparks that sometimes fly (good sparks) when you work together with a good team. In a room, not on Go To Meeting. Certain jobs, I can do alone in my office ... and although I tend to be easily distracted, I can be very disciplined as a deadline approaches. But others, I need to be with the people I'm working with or for. These are two old fashioned opinions: (1) people don't have the work ethic I was raised with ... sometimes the biggest whiners when it comes to having to come to work are the ones with the weakest work habits; and (2) I've been an advocate for equal rights for women throughout my career but if a woman chooses to be a working mother ... and it limits the time she can put in on a job, then she shouldn't be surprised when someone who works more advances faster.

I've probably just assigned myself to the "old dinosaur" bin.

Good post. Click.


Cheryl P. said...

No you are NOT an "old dinosaur" at all. That is pretty much what I was saying in my comment back to lisleman. I, too work a lot at home and have for the last 12 years. I have had occasion to go into the office as well. I think there is something to be said for the exchange of ideas and the camaraderie that goes with working in a office. It also depends a bit on the person involved as to how disciplined and motivated they are whether they handle the isolation of working by themselves at home. For me I am more productive at the office. As I am now semi-retired or semi-bumming...maybe semi-poaching off the good graces of my husband...my productivity is less of an issue. I make more money (Realtors work 100% on commission) when I work at the office.

As far as Marissa goes, I totally understand why she is trying to emulate the atmosphere over at Google and have a more group oriented environment. I don't think this was handled as well as it could of been. I think there probably is room for some telecommuters. Also the take it or leave it stance is going to cause some decline in the employee morale.

As to your point about women's rights in the work place. I am very pro women's rights (duh?) but you are right...a working mother is making a choice. I don't see that it is the obligation of the employer to make it work for her. Great if the employer can be accommodating but ultimately, it is the obligation of the working mom to make it work for her family. I went to a job every day when I was raising children and we managed as a team to maneuver whatever it took to keep everything running...or at least as best we could. Besides, should an employer make concessions for mom's that they don't make for dads or for those that don't have children at all.

Wendy said...

As a person with a home business, I too can see the pro/con. some of the best decisions and insights and sparks for ideas CAN come from the fact that people are in one place at the same time, yes, typically an office. I am more of an introvert who prefers to choose my moments with others. I have sons who complain that they could mostly telecommute their jobs. Although one works at one of those wonderful places with all amenities, where project completion is the goal, not day by day working. I am just a tad puzzled though why this is seen as anti-female?? Did I miss something?Are many/most of Yahoo employees women with children? Is this an anti-children campaign? Honestly, I think what could be helpful in workplaces is more flexibility wrt job sharing. Both men and women work now. Wouldn't they both like a tad more 'home' time when children are around?Must all work be completed at an office? Why are things typically done either/or instead of finding a both/and solution?
Love the pics. Cheryl, do you really work in your housecoat?!

luvbeingagrandpa said...

OK, my take on it is...they needed a CEO to save their jobs...Yahoo was headed into the toilet. She came in, woke up the financial community and they "liked" her approach...A win for her, the company, and the employees....Now when things are being improved at the employees dislike..they whine. The would really whine if the company folded. I'm on her side...and I too work better when I am in an office....How do you build team comradery over a phone when one is laying on the couch.

Cheryl P. said...

Let's get the important question answered first. NO, I never work in a housecoat because I get up at 5:00 to telecommute via smart phone with a bluetooth, to walk with someone in Dallas, TX. I have done this for 14 years now. So I start my work day in walking gear. This time of year several layers of athletic pants and gortex tops. I thought of the house coat because I know several work-at-home mom that tell me they start the day in PJ's until they get the emails answered and then take a break to dress.

As for the anti-women bend on this...it seems the nearly all of the negative reaction is coming from working moms. They say that working at home allowed them to be there for the kids comings and goings. While I understand their position on this, no where does the memo talk about not allowing flexible hours to accommodate their schedules. I personally, understand Marissa's desire to unify her work force but I also agree the new "rules" won't work for everyone.

I don't think the all or nothing approach was well thought out on Yahoo's end. I, too think that they could of evaluated the different job criteria and compromised a bit.

Cheryl P. said...

I do think she has to make major changes to kick Yahoo! into a more dynamic and innovative company. It appears to me that she is trying to bring some of her Google experience over to Yahoo! I don't necessarily agree with her all or nothing approach as some jobs that are statistical research or data base types of things surely could be done remotely. The more creative positions such as web design, or product development might do better when people interact with each other. Of course, no one outside of Yahoo knows what the structure currently looks like or how the jobs were handled prior to this memo. I trust that a woman that is 37 and the CEO of a Fortune 500 company is smart enough to know what might help make Yahoo a better, stronger company. While I might of inferred with my cartoons that people were slacking off at home, I probably should of put in the post that some remote workers work just as hard as the in-office workers. I would hope that any company rates the productivity of the employee no matter where they are working from.

abeerfortheshower said...

Hey, at least she's trying. Yahoo really needs to do something, and now, if it wants to still be around in 10 years.

"I'm not sure what the answer to that is. I'd better Yahoo it," says no one ever.

Cheryl P. said...

I agree. She has the job to turn a flailing company around and she has seen and worked in a company that got it right...or at least more right than Yahoo!. If this is what she feels would help turn the company in a positive direction, it's her call. I think she probably needs to soften the implementation but then she has a 5 year $117 Million contract, and you might be surprised to know...I don't...oh...that wasn't a surprise????

Jewells said...

Personally, after working for myself for so many years, for me to end up back in a corporate environment would actually be detrimental for everyone in the the office. I have gotten progressively worse at playing well with others, and have told the husband that if we ever actually get an office that has people in it (or not...doesn't really matter)...I'm not going to be there. I've worked very well in my PJ's from the couch for years, and it's NOT going to change. =)

However, I can maybe see what she is aiming to do. I mean, seriously, you NEVER see anything Yahoo! anymore. Not even a TV commercial. Yet, she's going to have to do more than just mandate that people come back to the office. She's going to have to make it worth their time. While I, personally, can't stand Google as a company, from what I know of their office environment they make it less painful to be stuck in an office environment.

I don't know what her answer is, but dictatorship alone won't work...that much I do know.

Cheryl P. said...

I agree with NOT going back into an office. While it is true, I am far less productive because I screw around too much when I am left alone, I have no intention of going back into a corporate environment. Before I do that I would find something in sales or outside business to business jobs, where you aren't tied to a desk. I like people (well sorta kind of ...don't quote me on that) but every office job I ever had has a hierarchy that makes me crazy. Truly I have had some of the craziest managers that ever walked the planet.

I, also, see that she needs to shake things up and she is used to how Google has done things. She has seen some of Googles approaches that have worked. While Google does have their problems, they sure know how to make an office more tolerable to work at. Frankly in this part of the country, if companies started feeding us free gourmet lunches, giving us all new smart phones and letting us use the gym during office hours we would be suspicious. Midwesterners wouldn't know how to act in that environment. So from here, it would appear going to the office isn't so bad...or not as bad as it could be, anyway.

I understand the people that signed on wanting to work remotely feel betrayed and you are right...this comes across as very dictatorial.

I believe she probably is super smart and will help strengthen Yahoo but in the short haul she seems to have caused a rift in morale within the ranks.

meleahrebeccah said...

"Companies such as Google and Facebook have created work environments to encourage employees to come together. They believe the interaction sparks brain-storming, innovation and inspiration. They have designed their work spaces to be comfortable and fun as well as offering amenities such as gourmet meals, dry cleaning service, haircuts, gyms and swimming pools and day care."

Hell yeah. Which is WHY people WANT to go to work there! Hell, I would LOVE to go to THAT office!

However, I am ALL FOR working FROM HOME whenever possible. Especially for parents. MEN AND WOMEN. And or for when your sick. There's no reason to come to an office and get everyone ELSE sick too.

Dexter Klemperer said...

I can certainly see both sides of the argument, but I think it's pretty silly to think that people in an office don't waste just as much time as anyone working from home. And I can say that confidently having wasted time at both. One of the nice things about working in a huge office or better yet campus, is there's so many places to hide!
I definitely get more work done at home because I have no distractions here. When I go to the office once a week, all I do is talk to people all day about sports, tv, life, etc.

Cheryl P. said...

Mixed bag with me as well. If I had to go back to work in a corporate environment...I would love all those perks. I always managed to work in hell holes of varying sorts.

Now that I sort of kind of work at home...if you call a real estate agent's job as working in this market...I don't think having people "in charge" of me would go over well. But clearly, I screw around a LOT...really A WHOLE LOT.

I admire the people that work at home and handle it like they would at the corporate office, sitting focused and diligent all day without all the distractions pulling them away.

Cheryl P. said...

I admire that you stay focused when working at home. Most of the offices I have worked at are small enough there weren't places to hide and I stayed steadily working. Not so much when I am at home.

I get the feeling after watching several documentaries about the Google office environment, they encourage people to wander, talk, interact. According to Marissa's interviews she wants people to share ideas and communicate more. They don't do that now because so many work remotely. I do see both sides of the coin.