How Yahoo Took Two Steps Back With One HR Memo

You have likely seen the HuffPo’s blog entry from Lisa Belkin about Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer‘s new edict which states remote employees will be a thing of the past at Yahoo corporate offices. Instead Mayer wants “bums in seats” with the mistaken belief that this somehow improves productivity and the bottom-line.


The reality in 2013 is CEOs should not be investing in real estate to house their employees. In fact, it should be quite the opposite. Workforces must be free to thrive and succeed in the ever-changing and dynamic environment of business 2.0. The fact a digital company like Yahoo would require its employees to be onsite is almost laughable. A company based on the idea users can login from anywhere in the world is suddenly clinging to some 1950s mentality that says “if I see you in the office you must be working” as opposed to say playing Farmville.


Many businesses have embraced the remote workforce mentality especially in large metropolitan areas where commuting can be a full-time job. For some interesting and compelling stats about remote working, check these out:

  1. Over 90% of employers say they offer some kind of flexible working option (Source: Slideshare)
  2. Over 70% of employees express an interest in working from home, at least part of the time (Source: Slideshare)

More fun stats on this here.

Technology means not having to be in the same room to connect with your team.

Technology means not having to be in the same room to connect with your team.

Bell Canada even has a downloadable guide containing best practices and tips for making remote working a success. To ignore other factors affecting workplace productivity is a major misstep. This may not affect Yahoo greatly in the short-term but good luck recruiting and keeping the Millennial and Gen Y workforce to take Yahoo to the next level. These types of HR practices will deter young developers and business people who crave and need flexibility from Yahoo and drive them to the competition. As Jessica Stillman states in this blog post for VSee the battle for tech talent is fierce. And is it one modern companies can really afford to lose? Suddenly that Google Hangout Team Meeting just got more attractive.

5 thoughts on “How Yahoo Took Two Steps Back With One HR Memo

  1. I’ve been watching this one with great interest and I think it’s a case of the few ruining things for the many.

    “What’s more, it’s seen as beneficial if less productive staff chose to leave because of the policy, they added. Indeed, some workers have abused the work-at-home option to the point that they’ve founded startups while being on Yahoo’s payroll, the employees said.”

    We all know, and have possibly worked with employees of companies who freelance on the side. It’s not hard to find people who abuse their freedoms to some extent as well.

    The lines are blurry as to what is acceptable behaviour during full time employment as it is. Add in work from home on your own schedule and I can certainly see how companies can have an issue with it.

    Does a career with a company imply that you shouldn’t do anything related to your field in your spare time?

    When you have flexible hours, what exactly is spare time and where do you draw the line on hobby projects?

    8000 people work at the Googelplex last I read, and the conditions there are the best in the world. Who wouldn’t want to take an opportunity to move there. Perhaps Gen Y just needs a swift kick in the ass.

  2. […] really liked this post How Yahoo Took Two Steps Back With One HR Memo by Susie Parker. Maybe Marissa should read the Bell Canada guide on how to make remote working […]

  3. Karen Siwak says:

    Telework is a fabulous option when the company has a clear sense of direction, a share set of goals and values, and clearly defined project plans and responsibilities. Yahoo doesn’t have that right now, but hopefully it will develop that under Meyers’ leadership. I don’t think the issue is “bums in seats” its “ears and brains engaged”, which is really hard to do if you don’t know who your colleagues are, who’s working on what, who’s capable of what, who’s dreaming of what. Rather than being misguided, I think Meyers decision is brave. I also suspect that its temporary, and once the ship is on a straight course again, telework will once again become a workable option.