So, unless you’ve been living under a rock this past week, you know that Yahoo’s CEO, Melissa Mayer, pulled the plug on working from home (aka Telecommuting). And in some ways I’m surprised but in some ways I’m not. If I had to rate the amount of disappointment that I feel, I have to say I’m tipped more to disappointment than not. I think that what Mayer was getting at was that there is more productivity when you’re in an office. On some level, I think I understand that – if I’m at home with my kids, it’s almost impossible for me to focus on one task for more than 10 minutes unless they’re sleeping because they inevitably need something – a referee, a drink, a potty break, something. And that gets in the way of anything. So for me, I actually prefer to do my work at the office because I tend to be more productive there.
Then there’s that whole practical thing. I can’t telecommute to court or to a victim impact meeting or to staff briefing, even though I might be able to field questions and respond to emails from home. We barely even have the technology to play videos or do video arraignments in court (a work in progress that hasn’t happened yet but whatever – it’s in the works) and we don’t have e-filings so if something needs filing by 4 that day I need to drive my butt to court. And, quite frank, I need to have access to our Crime software, which I don’t have at home. So there’s that practical limitation on my ability to work from home.
I also like maintaining my work/life separation. I want my home to be my refuge from the hectic life that work can be. I need to create a safe place for myself in order to preserve my sanity – which is a way for me to maintain my mental health; so I try to wall it off as much as possible.
On the other hand, I know that what works for me doesn’t work for other people. I have a husband who works in the computer industry and he can work from home when a kid is sick and I can’t. The kids have good daycare. Not all people have that, so why should a company like Yahoo dictate to them what they should do, if there is a risk that it would stifle creativity? I would think also that WAH people might actually be more friendly if they got into the office as well – I personally crave the company of other people and when I returned to the office after my maternity leaves, I loved the adult interactions that I didn’t have when I was home.
What is shocking to me, and where I draw the line and become hesitant, is that I feel like Mayer is making this a big step back for the effort to be able to blend family and work in the WAH realm if that’s what you choose to do or need to do. I also feel like it was hypocritical and presumptuous of her to do something like this when she built a nursery right next to her office so she could have her infant in work with her. Really Melissa Mayer? Really? But your staff can’t be near their children while they work? That made me utterly BS.
I mena, seriously, if people are abusing the policy and aren’t getting their work done, you fire them. Simple as that. A blanket policy doesn’t necessarily solve anything and puts us back like 20 years. And I don’t care if she didn’t want to be a role model for women in business because, guess what? She is almost by default – she’s the youngest, female CEO of a Fortune 500 company and the first one to assume the mantel while she was pregnant. When you’re that much of a rarity, you have no choice and you must bear that mantel with responsibility and honor, and it’s a shame that this isn’t the best foot forward necessarily – I hope that Yahoo doesn’t lose good employees because of this.