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Marissa Mayer: Can I See You in My Office?

Imagine that you just had a new baby and would welcome a more flexible work schedule, including the opportunity to work from home occasionally. Imagine also that you’re the boss, responsible for setting an example for your team and getting the best out of people, ensuring collaboration, innovation and productivity… not just from your best performers, but everyone.

Well hey, now you’re in Marissa Mayer’s shoes, who came under fire this week for reneging on Yahoo’s remote work tolerance and asked all employees to return to the office by June. Could she being any easier to hate right now?! After taking a 2-week maternity leave and asking an Internet company’s workforce to actually conduct business in-person?

It’s not just me that loves to pick on her and speculate on what planet she’s from. Everyone from the Huffington Post to Forbes to ZDNet had something to say about Mayer, all of it heated, which sent Mary Ann and me scurrying to find studies about the impact of telecommuting on productivity, employee retention, and other important talent metrics. We debated the pros and cons here. (Interestingly, Yahoo employees site the ability to work from home as one of the company’s top perks.)

Is this a necessary step to make Yahoo awesome again? Is being present required to be a leader and an innovator? Or does the ability to construct flexible and remote teams on the fly give companies the upper hand in attracting and retaining the best talent? (Also, can you change from one culture to another in a few months without consequence?)

I can’t say what I’d do in Mayer’s shoes. She has to turn a company around and demonstrate quick results. If she were managing a failing sports team, the best move would be to round everyone up, get them practicing together and let the weakest players bleed out. But if you’re a rock solid individual contributor, an MVP whether in the office or in Cabo, do you resent the new rules and start looking for another team? Or how about if you crave advancement, then isn’t it in your best interest to be in the same office as your boss?

Hmmm. We’d love to hear from you. What would you do? What have you tried and has it worked? How have you been affected by remote work policies?


But not next week. Next week we’ll hear from a captivating brand planner on a completely unrelated topic. In case you’re getting weary of the work/life balance debate.

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