Mommy blogs are all a-twitter, and twitter is all a-flutter about the Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) internal memo ordering telecommuters back to the office. It’s been more than a week since the internal memo about the change was released and the web is still flooded with indignant posts.
The Huffington Post, among other media outlets, has been framing this as a family vs. face time showdown. Marissa Mayer is being called hypocritical because she built and paid for a baby nursery next to her office and herself worked from home after her baby’s birth. What’s more worrying is that telecommuting was a benefit she’s withdrawn from formerly satisfied employees despite her quest to improve morale.
On the other hand Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB), headed by CEO Mark Zuckerberg, is offering employees who are about to deliver a child $4,000 to help out. Is that a nod to family values or just a forward-thinking employee incentive? At least it offers disgruntled Yahoo! employees some ideas on their next employer.
The political opiners will get in their jabs; work at home vs. mothers shouldn’t work at all, entitled employees, etc. Overthinking this isn’t getting Yahoo! anywhere, the fiat is seen as anti-family at the same time as anti-feminist, and even bad for the environment.
If people want to work at home and are productive, what’s the difference as Sir Richard Branson argued, especially with the telecommunications advantages that Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) surely enjoys. Parents and caregivers aren’t the only ones that may prefer to work from home; single people have personal or family issues that may make them prefer telecommuting, too.
Reports say that Mayer was dismayed by empty Yahoo! parking lots which would never happen at her former employer, Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG). Big difference, Google doesn’t have Yahoo!’s morale problem.
Aside from the obvious advantage of getting people off the roads as International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM) boasted on their corporate web page on the environment,” In 2011, in just the U.S. alone, IBM’s work-at-home program conserved approximately 6.4 million gallons of fuel and avoided more than 50,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions, ” telecommuting also allows rural communities to prosper. Besides IBM, most of the tech giants don’t have this overweening need for face time as All Things D writer Kara Swisher pointed out in a followup to her original release of the internal e-mail.
Will The Best And Brightest Stay?
Eventually, this telecommute to-do will ebb. Certainly, a few people abuse the privilege of telecommuting but that could be handled on a case-by-case basis. Studies have shown that workplace flexibility enhances productivity and a majority of large companies have at least tried flexwork initiatives. An infographic from Working Mother shows flextime is so desirable for employees that they would take a 10% pay cut.
Mayer is a driven CEO and the youngest woman to head a Fortune 500 company. The stock had risen over 30% since she took the helm. But Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) employees have had five CEOs in almost as many years and promising young talents were already opting out of Yahoo! until Mayer came on board. Their best and brightest may have less reason to stay now.