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February 28, 2013 / mike54martin

A Big Step Back for Yahoo


I always thought that technology would lead to some form of emancipation in the workplace and to a great degree that is true. Many workers now have the opportunity to work from home or from anywhere that they like that has a high speed Internet connection. But there is a disturbing development on the telework front that has shaken many of us who have been pushing for more control (and thereby less stress) in worker’s lives.

It comes in the form of a leaked internal memo from Yahoo’s head of Human Resources directing all employees who are currently working from home to start working from a company office in June of this year. No discussion, no debate, no dialogue. I thought this was Yahoo.. not Nike!! I don’t know what the internal discussions were like or what the reasons were for this management decision but it flies in the face of so many things that it’s hard to know where to begin.

Let’s give it a try anyway. This decision is wrong in spirit, content and delivery. In spirit it moves workers back a few steps in evolution and enforces a top-down hierarchy that only works in the papacy and the military. In content it costs everybody more money, wastes tons of fuel and energy and takes up space that could be used for almost any other good purpose. In delivery it just sucks. Take it or leave it to me is not a choice. I would leave and so will many Yahoo employees.

Finally this decision comes under the regime of CEO Marissa Mayer who Bloomberg News reported today had a nursery built near her office last year so that she could be closer to her newborn son. Now she paid for the facility with her own money but she could afford to. Who else could do that? Not the thousands of Yahoo workers who now have to scramble to find daycare and arrange for transportation to obey her edict.

Yahoo is still swimming against the tide of telework and mostly because companies and employers have figured out that is much cheaper to let their staff work from home than to bring them into the office. But that doesn’t mean that Yahoo isn’t wrong. Again. There’s a reason why Google is more successful that its older cousin. Yahoo might want to check out their campus.

Mike Martin is a freelance writer and author of The Walker on the Cape, a Sgt. Windflower mystery.

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