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Friday, March 1, 2013

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer bans telecommuting

Will people be what they when there is none to supervise ? – are controls required ??

In olden days, discipline was of utmost importance more than performance. Somewhere in the recent past, things changed. Until a few decades ago, people came to office in time [that was the basic expectation] and stayed in office for long hours……. ~ then came the culture known as ‘flexi-time’ and ….. ‘work from home’ [luxuries not enjoyed by all companies, only by a elite few…. Especially IT & ITES sector]……….. known as telecommuting.  Telecommuting workers revel in making their own schedule -- allowing them to schedule work around family and personal commitments. With the ready availability of technology tools, like the Internet and home computers, companies have been more willing to let employees work from home.

Technology is no doubt a boon and as is with any technology whether it is a boon or bane depends on the user and the way it is put to use.  Telecommuting sure would reduce the hours of travel and travails of travel;  might also cut costs in some manner – but whether productivity is guaranteed depends…. !!

Sure, you know and use ‘Yahoo’........ an American multinational internet corporation headquartered in Sunnyvale, California. It is widely known for its web portal, search engine Yahoo! Search, and related services, including Yahoo! Directory, Yahoo! Mail, Yahoo! News, Yahoo! Finance,Yahoo! Groups, Yahoo! Answers, advertising, online mapping, video sharing, fantasy sports and its social media website. Yahoo! Inc. was founded by Jerry Yang and David Filo in January 1994 and was incorporated on March 1, 1995.  Its present CEO and President is  Marissa Mayer.

Marissa Ann Mayer was a long-time executive and key spokesperson for Google. She is the youngest CEO of a Fortune 500 company, and has been ranked number 14 on the list of America's most powerful businesswomen of 2012 by Fortune magazine.  Since becoming the CEO, she has been working hard to get the Internet pioneer off its deathbed and make it an innovator once again. She started with free food and new smartphones for every employee, borrowing from the playbook of Google, her employer until last year. Now,  she has rattled many with her announcement abolishing its work-at-home policy and ordering everyone to work in the office.  Newsreports mention of the memo explaining the policy change, from the company's human resources department, that  face-to-face interaction among employees fosters a more collaborative culture - a hallmark of Google's approach to its business.

Some even call it a great leap backwards. Banning ‘telecommuting’ perhaps none thought would ever occur…….. that too from an IT Company. According to a Reuters poll, approximately "one in five workers around the globe, particularly employees in the Middle East, Latin America and Asia, telecommute frequently and nearly 10 percent work from home every day".

The memo of HR chief Jackie Reses described as infamous reportedly states that “Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home. We need to be one Yahoo!, and that starts with physically being together,” in her now infamous memo, “Beginning in June, we’re asking all employees with work-from-home arrangements to work in Yahoo! offices. If this impacts you, your management has already been in touch with next steps. And, 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.” Even that rare day that you may want to work from home — because of the cable guy or a sick child — will now be scrutinised by management.

The growing intolerance of telecommuting is not unique to Yahoo!. Google, for example, isn’t big on working from home, as its CFO Patrick Pichette recently was quoted as saying that  there is something magical about sharing meals. There is something magical about spending the time together, about noodling on ideas, about asking at the computer ‘What do you think of this?’

To those who cannot digest the idea itself, Mayer’s decision sparked a firestorm that  it smacked of top-down dictatorialism, evoking the bygone image of the factory boss and his time cards, making sure each of his workers punches in the required hours. The ban on telecommuting may seem old-fashioned in a wired age but when a company thinks of controls, none have the priority to defy that.  Expecting one’s workforce to devote the required hours if not greater hours is a fair expectation but the initial reaction is that it is wrong and would undermine the morale of the skill force. 

Marissa Mayer for sure has stirred a hornet’s nest ~ whether for the employee or for the Company, only time will tell

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.
28th Feb 2013

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