Marissa Mayer’s decision to eliminate the work-from-home option at Yahoo has caused quite a stir. Many seem to feel it is simply a bad, demoralizing move that exacerbates the already sorry state the company is in.
I have a slightly different take on the move. I think it is likely a short-term play intended to rein in possible abusers of the policy and allow to be measured the costs and benefits of such a policy. My understanding from what I’ve read and heard from Yahoo insiders is that there are people on the payroll who have other gigs and are being compensated for more than what they produce. There is a fundamental lack of accountability (not to mention integrity).
Corporate culture is enhanced when there are points of accountability throughout the organization. A strict hierarchy isn’t required to achieve this, but when there have been systemic breeches, the only way to achieve order is to impose the restrictions on everyone. Remember when your whole grade school class was punished when one kid was talking? Yes, it is a case of “one bad apple spoiling the whole bunch,” but the imposition can be a strong corrective short-term move.
I want to give Ms. Mayer the benefit of the doubt, (and not because she is a woman either). Certainly, she understands the benefits of flexible work arrangements (her own childcare situation, notwithstanding). Change requires bold, risky moves that not everyone will like. I want to believe this is one of many bold moves Ms. Mayer will make that will hopefully right the Yahoo ship.