Marissa Meyer Bans Work From Home

OK, I can see why this was such big news, and in saying exactly that, I think Marissa Meyer and Yahoo! got what they were hoping for. 16,200 Google results do not lie.

However, the focus all seems to be on home working and its pros and cons.

I think the key points which have been left out of the limelight, are the fact that this is clearly (at least partially) a clever PR stunt, and that that one of the reasons for the media attention is that Marissa Meyer is a woman.

It’s no secret that there are relatively few women in high power positions, and Yahoo! have played this to their advantage in a great PR campaign. As they should.

Yes, this is a genuine

Marissa Meyer bans yahoo home workers from working at homeYahoo! – a brand which everyone has heard of operational change as well, but throwing all the components in to one basket it makes for great reading:

  1. Working from home – at a time when telecommuting or teleworking (or whichever of the numerous coined terms you choose) is more popular than ever (cue Richard Branson, Michael Bloomberg)
  2. Meyer is new to the company, came from Google, and is a woman in a high power position making a high power change. High five to that.

Now that makes for a good PR campaign. And one Yahoo! need. After all, which search engine do you use to find what you’re looking for? Yahoo! need help, and big changes often bring about success.

Marissa Meyer certainly knows what she is doing in her memo to employees published on allthingsD - and the initial claim is that since the ban on home working, applications for people wanting to work at Yahoo! has risen 22%. And that doesn’t surprise me.

Yahoo! is a big name company people want to work at, along with a big player like Meyer, and working for a company like that is about being part of the team and community and may well not lend to home working. So in fact, telecommuting will likely never have been a factor for these applicants, and as I mentioned earlier, the PR drive has simply brought awareness to job seekers of available positions. Clever. Small businesses; take note.

According to Forbes, compared to CEO Marissa Mayer’s former employer, Google, Yahoo has a productivity problem. Google’s 53,861 employees generate $931,657 in revenue per worker, 170% higher than Yahoo’s $344,758 worth of revenue per employee. Meyer has been brought in to to change this, and is setting to do just that.

So these are the main points I wanted to open a discussion on. I will just quickly touch on home working, seeing as that’s what we’re all about here at iHubbub, but only briefly, as I don’t need much space to make my point on this in response to the media frenzy around this story.

So to put it simply, working from home works for some, not for others, and is dependable on many factors. It works for some organisations, and not others. It works for some people, and not others.

However, double-standards are simply not right. George Miller took the words out of my mouth: “If Yahoo doesn’t start building nurseries in every office, then really, this is just bullsh**. Sorry, but it’s horribly unfair for the CEO to build a nursery next to her office, tell everyone else they can’t work from home and that then forces them to hire nannies. That’s wrong.”

Time are changing. Certainly, working from home once would not have been possible. Today it is and from my experience, if you hire the right people, you will often get more out of them at home. I have worked in several offices, and the amount of time wasted on travel to the office, meetings, coffee making, meetings, cigarette breaks, meetings, and chit chat is significantly more than a home brewed coffee and a couple of Skype calls. It’s about who, what and how.

It’s a topic people will always have their own opinions on, but also one which quite simple works on a case-by-case basis. So, Richard Branson’s “one day offices will be a thing of the past” or Michael Bloomburg’s view that working from home is ‘one of the dumbest ideas I’ve ever heard”? Tell us what you think.

If you want to create your own PR campaigns to stand up to the outreach of Yahoo! have a look at our publicity service for home businesses.