I’m seeing so much ire in my social streams toward Marissa Mayer and her “gotta be in the office” move at Yahoo! As a mom with a full time job outside of the home (oh how I hate the phrase “working mom” – aren’t they all?) I can tell you I’m grateful for the occasional work-from-home day when I can catch up on laundry and stay in my yoga pants while getting my job done. I was especially grateful to be able to work from home when I was put on bedrest for nine weeks during my pregnancy and I was able to keep my job.

Marissa Mayer and work from home policies

“Yep, I did that.”

But I also work in a giant bullpen and can attest to how much faster and better much of my work is when I can talk face to face with my colleagues, or when we overhear conversations and interject with useful information and opinions.

But then again, we’re not as good as we could be at keeping each other in the loop when a team member is working remotely. I’ve also been in situations where the generosity of a work from home policy was taken advantage of. 

I don’t know what it’s like to work at Yahoo! I know from what I’ve read that the company has been struggling and Mayer was brought in to turn it around. Is it possible that a work from home culture has gone unchecked for too long and she sees this as a way to clear out dead weight quickly? Is it possible it’s easier to take it down to the starting point and rebuild from there? Is it possible that this move is temporary, and one she’d reconsider in another year once the company and its culture are back on track? Is it possible we’re putting more weight on her decisions because she’s a woman and a mother and there are many who attribute her voice to be one that represents all mothers and women in the workforce?

For what it’s worth, Marissa Mayer, I have your back on this one. I’m interested to hear more about how it affects productivity, good and bad, and to see if you rebuild workshifting back into the culture at some point. I hope you use productivity data as well as sentiment analysis from your employees to revisit the issue in a few months and consider making a change if you’re not hitting your goals, or be a willing public case study if you are. 

photo from Business Insider