Last week, Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer instituted a new company policy: As of June, employees may no longer work remotely from home, restricting the flexibility that famously enabled fellow glass-ceiling-breaker Sheryl Sandberg to climb the ranks at Google while raising children. “Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home,” went the HR memo, obtained by Kara Swisher. “We need to be one Yahoo!, and that starts with physically being together.” Naturally, people are very angry, especially those who arranged schedules (for, say, childcare) around working remotely when they were hired and are now being told to “comply without exception or quit.”
Not that it’s a problem for Mayer, who personally paid to have a nursery installed next to her office. “I wonder what would happen if my wife brought our kids and nanny to work and set em up in the cube next door?,” a husband of an employee losing work-from-home privileges told Swisher. Another scolded, “When a working mother is standing behind this, you know we are a long way from a culture that will honor the thankless sacrifices that women too often make.”
In Mayer’s defense, she took over a company in crisis, where, according to Swisher, mismanagement of work-at-home policies left the office lacking energy. Mayer already tried making Yahoo!’s cafeteria free, in the hopes of keeping employees in the office and collaborating. On the other hand, she also got everyone on staff smart phones, which would seem to encourage working remotely. Although maybe she just hoped to increase productivity on walks to the bathroom. Anyway, now do we believe Mayer when she says she’s thinking about running Yahoo! and not at all focused on being our feminist role model?