February 23, 2013

Going Forward to the Past: Management Yahooliganism & No Longer Working From Home

yahooMy jaw dropped when I read it.

Thanks to an internal memo leaked to Kara Swisher by a Yahoo employee, we have insight into a recent decision by their C-Suite. Taking a page from “we liked it better when we physically saw you hammering keystrokes on your laptop” the struggling company (bada Bing?) has mandated any Yahoo employee currently working from home (full-time or on occasion) must relocate their fingers and keystrokes back to the office by June. That’s right … if a Yahoo employee was able to work from home, it’s no longer in the employee contract.

I call it ‘management yahooliganism‘.

The memo itself was penned by Jackie Reses, Yahoo’s Head of Human Resources. I’ve no idea whether Jackie (and CEO Marissa Mayer) have a hate on for life-work balance or whether they  have been watching reruns of TV dramas from the 1970’s, but it screams naïvety and a definitive lack of trust with their employees.

It’s management yahooliganism.

Three lines irked me greatly in this memo missive:

  1. “Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home.”
    • Perhaps Jackie doesn’t believe in research but if she walked down the street to Stanford University, she could have chatted with Nicholas Bloom et al who actually proved this statement wrong in their paper “Does Working From Home Work?”
    • “Home working led to a 13% performance increase, of which about 9% was from working more minutes per shift (fewer breaks and sick-days) and 4% from more calls per minute (attributed to a quieter working environment). Home workers also reported improved work satisfaction and experienced less turnover.”
    • The C-Suite might want to read a recent post of mine as well, “I Am A Corporate Floater
  2. “If this impacts you, your management has already been in touch with next steps.”
    • This says a lot to me about the culture that is being (re)created at Yahoo. Instead of connecting and considering options directly with employees, this unilateral decision has been made, seemingly left to management to inform (and fire?) employees who don’t comply.
    • Talk about a culture killer … although it does map back nicely to ‘command and control’ doesn’t it?
    • The C-Suite would be wise to read Chapter 8 of Flat Army – the Collaborative Leader Action Model
  3. “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.”
    • In an official memo such as this, why are we resorting to stereotypes like ‘the cable guy‘?
    • Shame on Yahoo (and HR in particular) for stooping to such lows; an obvious bad attempt at official communication humour that does nothing to help build culture

It’s management yahooliganism. It’s one organization I’ll never work for … and after writing this, it’s perhaps one I’ll never be able to speak at either.

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