Marissa Mayer Orders Telecommuters To The Office

There’s been a huge outcry–mostly negative–about Marisa Mayer, Yahoo’s CEO, ordering telecommuters to the office by the first of June.

Most of what I read is missing the critical point that Yahoo must do this due to a failure of leadership, a failure of management to hold telecommuters accountable for adding value to the business.

I’m certain most would agree that morale at Yahoo the past 10 years has been pretty abysmal. There’s not been a lot for employees or investors to get excited about. The trend line has been down. There’s been substantial turnover in key executive leadership.

When morale is low, low productivity follows.

Many reports suggest that employees who work from home are highly productive and even more productive than employees who are in the office everyday. I can’t argue with that point. But, telecommuters have to be managed. Anecdotes I’ve read in the media about Yahoo suggest that leadership and oversight has largely been absent.

Does Yahoo’s decision portend the death of telecommuting? Absolutely not. It is simply a step necessary to get Yahoo operating together. Surely, this will be disruptive to some employees and their families. Some will leave the company because of this. And, that might be a good thing. I’m sure some accommodation will be made for some employees. And, once the company is banging on all cylinders again, telecommuting may again be granted as a privilege to some.

As Ronald Reagan taught us, “Trust but verify.” If you don’t hold people accountable, you run the potential of ending up in a very dark place.

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting

© 2013 Dave Gardner


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