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IMHO: Ms. Mayer Lacks Trust and Fails to See the Bigger Picture

Ken Chen

Ken Chen

March 8, 2013

Photo Source: The New Yorker
Source: The New Yorker

I thought I’d chime in on the Yahoo/Marissa Mayer Can’t Work from Home Edict, even though I’m probably the last person in the world who would issue an opinion this.

First off, I must say that I’m clearly biased.

I have worked mostly from my home office as a Marketing Consultant for the last nine years. My company has many consultants that are reaping the benefits of working from home part of the week. In fact, I am often complimented by clients about how much high-quality work our consultants get done!

The debate of “To Work from Home or Not” is foolish because it really comes down to the person.

Some employees will treat a day working at home as a pseudo-vacation and spend time with their kids and go “offline.” But others know how to prioritize, stay focused and just need a quiet workplace to do uninterrupted “thinking” work. The home is a great place for it. In fact, I bet many full-time employees already do this, but that kind of work comes between the hours of 5PM and 2AM.

In my experience, most employees give selflessly of their personal time throughout the week because that’s what is demanded of them in today’s workplace. They go to work from 8/9AM to 5/6PM, go home, spend some time with family and come back online for several hours at night. I did this for many years. Managers should know which employees do the same and should be empowered to give them a day or two to work from home if they request it.

I won’t pretend to know if Yahoo has let this work-from-home culture run roughshod.

I’m guessing it has. But by having a policy like this, you are punishing your most important resource: the diligent, go-beyond-the-call-of-duty employees who are the lifeblood of any company.

Ask anyone who works in a big corporate environment and they’ll tell you that 10% of the people do 80% of the work. Those 10% really appreciate a day or two of flexibility to watch their son’s soccer practice, have a contractor come to the house to fix the heater or even go for a jog at lunch to clear their head.

Photo Source: FastCo.Exist
Source: FastCo.Exist

Most importantly, you build trust and loyalty by treating your people like adults.

For the people who abuse their privilege and don’t know the difference between working at home vs. a vacation day, it’s up to management to restrict the privilege. It’s been proven that working from home actually increases productivity and has other benefits for employees such as better health and savings on gas and car insurance.

So, why penalize everyone? I guess Yahoo has decided they have more kids than adults in their workplace.

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