There’s one more point deserving a quick mention in the discussion over Yahoo!’s decision to ban work from home arrangements and how this might impact the way other businesses approach the whole topic within their own organizations.
The CEO Question
A lot of the debate over whether or not Yahoo! did the right thing banning work-from-home arrangements has read as a debate over whether or not Yahoo!’s CEO, Marissa Mayer, made the right decision implementing this ban.
While it’s probably not fair to place the full weight of this decision on Mayer alone, it’s wise to note when these sorts of shake-ups occur they’re usually discussed entirely as the sole decision of whomever is in charge, in this case the company’s CEO.
A Mostly Civil Discussion
Most of the mentions of Mayer in the context of this decision have been civil. They haven’t gotten too personal, and a lot of them focus on the fact Mayer used to work for Google before she took over at Yahoo!, and the way her time there may have influenced her role in this decision (such as the fact she tried to implement Google-esque free meals at Yahoo!, or the way she may see Google’s innovations as stemming from the close physical proximity of the search giant’s employees).
Still, there is one point where Mayer is coming under scrutiny for her role in this decision, and it has to do with a seeming double-standard when it comes to a spare room she recently installed next to her office.
Working Parents and Mayer’s Nursery
Mayer is a recent mother, she returned to work two weeks after she gave birth, and soon enough she had a nursery built right next to her office. None of this should be used as ammunition against her, she certainly shouldn’t be penalized for having a child or for making accommodations for her child so she could spend plenty of time with her new baby without sacrificing her work commitments. This is admirable, it’s commendable, and it’s wonderful she made this decision to help bridge a gap many other working mothers face.
The big personal blowback that came at Mayer once she announced the end of work-from-home arrangements came from the fact this ban makes things a lot more difficult for other working mothers who utilize their remote arrangements to do the equivalent of what Mayer accomplishes with her new office-bound nursery- balancing work and family according to her own needs and requirements.
The image we have of remote employees tends to be young tech-savvy people who are accustomed to working according to their own whims and their own schedules, but when it comes down to it remote working arrangements offer an incredible boon to families trying to excel on two fronts at the same time, and Mayer is being accused of hypocrisy for ensuring this right for herself while denying it to others, especially seeing as there are currently no plans to create larger child-care facilities within Yahoo!’s corporate offices and there are no new allowances being set in place to fix this newfound problems for the company’s working mothers and fathers.
Does this one fact mean Mayer was wrong to make the decision she did when she contributed to banning remote work arrangements within her organization? Of course not, and this one point shouldn’t dominate the discussion of whether the decision was “right” or “wrong.” Instead, it should just serve as another moment to remember in this cautionary tale.
According to all available information Yahoo! probably made the right overall decision banning remote work arrangements for the moment, but it’s pretty clear the company could have handled this action a little better, and having the CEO whose name will be attached to the decision receive preferential benefits this ban now takes away from her other employees is a pretty big faux-pas you’d be wise not to repeat.