back to article Speaking in Tech: Ya-boo! Marissa! Mayer! how! COULD! you!?

speaking_in_tech Greg Knieriemen podcast enterprise It's another live one. Podcast fans, here it is: another enterprise tech cast with your host Ed Saipetch. Regular co-hosts Greg Knieriemen and Sarah Vela are MIA this week as Ed podcasts live from Las Vegas at VMware's Partner Exchange. Special guests this week include Amy …


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Anonymous Coward

Having spent seven months as a work-at-homer, and knowing others who still are, I can honestly say congrats to Mayer. IMO she did the right thing. Working at home is way to easy to slack off. After three months I longed for the office again.

I am sure there are workers who are productive at home, and there are definitely workers who think they are productive but aren't, but the vast majority, IMO are not very productive.

I know workers who just tether their netbooks to their phones and go to a cafe for a few hours, and keep logging in and adding pointless or trivial commits to the repositories just to look busy.


Having telecommuted for the last 12 years....

I think it is a mixed bag.

Sometimes you slack off, but so do office workers. The difference I think is that at home when you slack off, you actually do stuff which might recharge your battery. When you slack off at the office you end up mouse wiggling - trying to look productive, but actually doing SFA - and not recharging.

Sometimes you actually work harder without having the general disruption of co-workers.

Sometimes it is good to have co-workers around to help fire enthusiasm.

Most (valuable and useful) employees are able to monitor themselves and want to be productive and giving them flexibility to come in some days and not others pays off. Those that need to be kept under a thumb and meekly put up silly rules probably are not worth having around.

Short answer is that there is no short answer..

Anonymous Coward

No point to boo her

There are two issues here.

She is right on the first one - in a company where the sence of community and teamwork is missing homeworking is not productive. As far as the "community and teamwork" her predecessors did an extremely good job in exterminating that and replacing it with dilbertian distopia.

So you have to establish that first and then people can telework and telecommute to their's heart content.

The second is a more interesting one - there are two options here. She can fire all cubicle dwellers and force the ones that had to go into hiding inside their home offices go to the office and form the team or die. She can also fire all homeworkers (or to be more exact in this case - loneworkers) and stick with the cubicle dwellers.

She has chosen the latter. As someone who has worked in an organization where the mediocrity reigned supreme and tried to the same all I can say is that I am not sure that she has chosen the right people to fire.


She's an idiot

You gotta factor in the mindset of the person making this comment. She rocked back to work mere weeks after having a baby. That tells us 2 things.

1. Work comes first for her.

2. She has no concept of how hard those on less than CEO wages find managing child care.

Personally working from home 1 day a week is worth about £10k to me as without it I'd have to find a non-London job and my current employer would be devoid of my manifold talents.


It worked for me

I worked for 3-4 years at home for a startup company and it was very productive. I currently work for a traditional company where I have to work in the office. I find it less productive, mostly due to the meetings and other crap you deal with when you're in proximity to a lot of other people.

Silver badge

Pros and cons of home working

I worked at home for close to 7 years.. I probably didn't work so hard per minute as I might if I were in the office. On the other hand I worked an awful lot more minutes than I did in an office. Frequently I'd be attending meetings at 8pm and so on because I was literally in my office so it didn't bother me.

I did have to present myself to the office once a week which was a pain in the backside as it was 120 miles away. but at least I enjoyed a lie in on the other days.


I've worked at many firms, most which allowed working from home 1 day per week.

It depends on the nature of your work. I found it more time consuming to coordinate meetings or contact people and get things done that required group effort / collaboration when you are not in the office. Those days I prefer to frown and bear the commute to work knowing I will have a more productive day in this respect.

On days where I will be spending the majority of my time updating charts, status reports, miscellaneous paperwork, billing with minimal phone contact I prefer to work from home. It's easier to get such work done without constantly being interrupted which happens at work. With the exception of Monday we get to choose our WFH days - most people here, myself included opt for Friday.

I am under the impression that Yahoo had no formal policy in place to manage telecommuters. Everywhere I've worked it was considered a privilege that could be revoked at any time so no slacking. We have a hard time reaching you when you are telecommuting? Privilege lost until further notice. No complaining to HR, it was made clear during orientation that WFH is not a right and not deemed necessary to perform your job.

I disagree with Mayer's mass punishment of telecommuters - the productive ones shouldn't be lumped in with the lazy slackers that abused the system. I've seen this knee-jerk reaction before, she won't last long at Yahoo!. But then again, who does?

Beer icon because WFH allows an early trip to the pub that day - once all my work is done of course!


Fishes & Barrels

I don't see killing work from home as a bad thing when your organization is bleeding red ink. Get everyone in the office and see who really performs: Then terminate the underperformers.

Secondly I really don't buy into the "work more hours from home" argument. You may sit in front of the computer longer, but in many cases it is mostly due to having to regain your concentration after answering the phone, nursing a child, walking the dog, etc... If people were in an environment that promoted focused work they wouldn't have to put in so many "extra" hours.

Finally, the office politics argument: if you are embroiled in office politics you either don't have enough to do and your manager needs correction, or you are in too high of a position to be working from home anyway. So no wins there either.

None of my staff work from home unless there is a serious, temporary, situation that merits it. Telecommuting is not an option. However, everyone goes home everyday and is able to leave work at work as they are all very happy. Only two quitters and two terminated in nine years.

Anonymous Coward

Re: Fishes & Barrels

" is mostly due to having to regain your concentration after answering the phone, nursing a child, walking the dog, etc......"

oh right......... in an office you don't ever have to answer the phone? you never have 3 people telling jokes, loudly, in the cubicle next door? you never get exposed to loud music you hate? nobody walks by and starts asking for advice (work related or otherwise) without asking if you have the time?

oh and of course in an office nobody EVER spends an hour on the phone arranging personal stuff.....or eats at their desk because they spent the lunch hour shopping?

Anonymous Coward

work isn't "good ideas"

Marissa claimed in an interview they'd checked VPN logins and some were not logging in "often enough". What is enough? a VPN login is good for 24 hours.

Then the solution would be to check up what those individuals were doing, and get rid of the slackers. Yahoo has dozens of people working from home full-time, because they're in cities where Yahoo has no offices. They allow 24/7 coverage for certain things, as there is always someone on duty. Others take a "home day" when they have virtual meetings coming up with others in another time zone....... so what if they then spend the morning shopping? they will be awake at an online meeting at 3 am.

She is busy alienating everyone in the name of of "team building".

1) she announced free food for 2 offices, leaving everyone else feeling left out. The scheme was expanded to other places only after strong protests.

2) the free food is not available for part time workers and contractors, making them into second-class citizens

3) the food scheme was a slap in the face for people who'd just had important but small/cheap projects axed as a cost-saving measure

4) contractors are expected to contribute to their department's goal-setting but are excluded from seeing departmental goals as they are "not employees"

5) many work-from-home jobs are not about innovation or good ideas or collaborative work......... answering emails, fixing account access problems, writing code to alter existing projects, upgrading software, analysing data and writing reports........these do not need innovation, these need concentration uninterrupted by the noises of other people in the next cube or in the corridor.

So she doesn't even know what work many of her people are doing, or what's involved. No amount of chatting at the water cooler gets anything PRODUCTIVE done.

If the workers have any sense, they'll refuse to do ANY work from home. Leave the iPhone at work, don't answer it. She doesn't want you working from home? don't work from home. Walk out at 5 pm and be unreachable.


Deadweights and Yahoo

Sounds like they go together.

Yahoo is dying. Marissa is just doing the humane thing and putting it out of its misery faster.

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