Yahoo CEO and Google transplant Marissa Mayer has wasted no time in making Yahoo her own and implementing sweeping, and sometimes controversial, changes across the company. Most recently, Mayer made headlines when Yahoo issued a directive informing all employees that that come this Summer they'll no longer be able to telecommute.
The email, which was supposed to be private, was not surprisingly leaked. It reads in part:
To become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side. That is why it is critical that we are all present in our offices. Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings. Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home. We need to be one Yahoo!, and that starts with physically being together.
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. Being a Yahoo isn’t just about your day-to-day job, it is about the interactions and experiences that are only possible in our offices.
Expectedly, there was a backlash from affected employees and even from folks not affiliated with Yahoo who argued against the new directive on philosophical grounds.
But not everyone is crying out against Mayer's new policy.
Speaking to Business Insider recently, former Yahoo ad tech executive Michael Katz said that Mayer's move was something that had to be done. "Working from home may be convenient for some but it represents a huge opportunity cost to the team, especially a team that's trying to turn things around," Katz said.
BI also quotes someone familiar with Mayer's thought process on the matter. Here's what they had to say:
- Yahoo has a huge number of people of who work remotely – people who just never come in.
- Many of these people "weren't productive," says this source.
- "A lot of people hid. There were all these employees [working remotely] and nobody knew they were still at Yahoo."
- These people aren't just Yahoo customer support reps. They're in all divisions, from marketing to engineering.
- Mayer is happy to give Yahoo employees standard Silicon Valley benefits like free food and free smartphones. But our source says the kinds of work-from-home arrangements popular at Yahoo were not common to other Valley companies like Google or Facebook. "This is a collaborative businesses."
- Mayer saw another side-benefit to making this move. She knows that some remote workers won't want to start coming into the office and so they will quit. That helps Yahoo, which needs to cut costs. It's a layoff that's not a layoff.
- Bigger picture: This is about Mayer "carefully getting to problems created by Yahoo's huge, bloated infrastructure." The company got fat and lazy over the past 15 years, and this is Mayer getting it into fighting shape.
All in all, it's hard to argue with Mayer's logic, assuming the aforementioned arguments formed part of her decision making. Besides, there's no denying that Yahoo is in need of a substantial corporate makeover, from the inside out. As the saying goes, desperate times call for desperate measures.