In My Opinion
Why Marissa Mayer is Now Every Working Mother’s Nightmare
There’s been a lot of debate recently over Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s recent decisions to eliminate the option for Yahoo staff to work remotely and to the requirement that all employees report to the Silicon Valley offices of Yahoo! HQ by June 1st, or quit.
Some women consider Ms. Mayer “an embarrassment” to women, having put so much faith in a young, successful executive female, who is now also a mom, and her position in leading with a clear break through that glass ceiling. Instead, she’s been every working mother’s nightmare: working until the bitter end of her pregnancy, poo-pooing the importance or even need of more than 2 weeks maternity leave, and now, arguing that productivity and collaboration are best accomplished with everyone sitting in a cubicle and physically attending the many meetings to follow in an effort to save the dying digital brand.
As a former corporate employee, I know this is simply a cover to something more, like betting on the fact that many of those remote employees will actually quit saving the company from having to pay a dime in layoffs.
The problem with criticizing work-from-home staff by calling them unproductive and invisible is that she supports the stereotype that those who work from home don’t really work at all. That we spend most of our time slacking off and wasting time, charging for hours not truly used on projects for which we have been contracted. She depicts us as nothing more than money sucking opportunists with no real value to a company’s overall bottom line.
And, as I sit here on a Sunday afternoon writing this article for my employer, I have to wonder, what about the managers? What about the in-house managers in charge of recruiting, delegating, following up, assigning, communicating, and evaluating these so-called slackers? What is their role in all of this?
I’ve held many in-office jobs in my lifetime. During my work in public relations, long before social media was a part of everyone’s life, I worked with media from all over the country. Later during my role as a project manager in publishing, I managed projects for major publishing firms in NYC, with authors located all over the world, and with a production staff in India – all while sitting at my desk in Madison, WI. Now, as an award-winning travel blogger and freelance writer, I work with clients all over the United States and internationally, and work on projects both for my site and other platforms, often from my home office in New Jersey, or from hotels rooms anywhere in the world when traveling – while also tending to my home, myself, and my family.
The growth of my brand as a work-from-home freelancer and blogger has everything to do with the quality of my work, my reputation, and referrals from past and present remote employers. At times we will connect over the phone, Skype, Google hangouts or over coffee if we happen to be in the same town. Collaboration and the sharing of ideas have never been a problem.
Research has shown there to be a positive connection between workplace flexibility and an individual's work-life balance. Studies have also shown that those who work for employers who provide flexible work hours also tend to experience fewer conflicts within their work, family and personal lives. When this isn’t the case, it is women who are more negatively impacted.
There may be those who slack off on the job and maybe need to be supervised more closely in order to deliver expectations. Working from home is not for everyone and not everyone can do it or do it successfully. But this idea that those who do work-from-home are working less than those who work in the office is a ridiculous ideology, especially coming from someone like Ms. Mayer who has built her career in the digital world, known for its ability to make working from anywhere a possibility for so many. One has to wonder if she believes in or even understands the very product and services she has spent so many years promoting.