To work from home or head into the office? That is the question.
Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer has made a bold decision to turn around her troubled company. She wants employees who work remotely–usually from home–to be physically present in the office from now on. A memo sent from Yahoo! human resources said that beginning in June, all Yahoo! employees with work-from-home arrangements will be required to come into the office. Here’s the reasoning cited in the memo: ”Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home. We need to be one Yahoo!, and that starts with physically being together.” The memo continues: “… for the rest of us who occasionally have to stay home for the cable guy, please use your best judgment in the spirit of collaboration.”
“I’d quit if Marissa Mayer came to me and said you have to be in the office every day,” says The Daily Beast’s Lauren Ashburn. “I was a much better employee when I could be flexible.”
Mayer’s move has set off a nationwide debate. Some say she’s the boss and if she wants her employees in the office, that’s her call. Others say it’s a step back in the evolution of work/life accommodations and an extra burden on workers–male or female –who can’t afford childcare or the luxury of a nursery adjacent to their office, as Mayer has. (She paid for the construction with her own money, not company funds.) The CEO just happens to be a 37-year-old new mother, a fact which only adds fuel to the fire of this debate.
One woman who is siding with Mayer is Bonnie Fuller, Editor-in-Chief of HollywoodLife.com. Fuller knows a thing or two about balancing work and home life. She has spent decades in the magazine industry, including editor-in-chief positions at Cosmopolitan and Marie Claire. “I’m a mother and I’m also a boss,” says Fuller. ”I can tell you I’ve always found that it’s been best for all of us to gather in the office.”
The flexibility to work remotely is not an uncommon concept in today’s workforce. The 2010 U.S. Census showed that 51.3% of men and 48.7% of women work from home all the time. And 54.7% of men and 45.3% of women also said they work from home at least one day a week on average in that Census.
“She’s going to be losing really good talent because of a decision that’s inflexible,” Ashburn says about this move by Mayer. Ashburn says as a working mother, she’s been able to maintain her career with the ability to work from home. “There has to be some sort of middle ground at companies.”
“I completely understand what Marissa Mayer is trying to do,” says Fuller. ”Plus, she’s got a company that needs to be driven forward. They haven’t had the best results, she’s there to make change, so she has to do what’s necessary.”