Lion of the Blogosphere

No more telecommuting allowed at Yahoo

It has been making the news today that Yahoo’s new young female pregnant CEO Marissa Mayer is cracking down on Yahoo employees who work from home.

It seems to me that senior management at a lot of big corporations think that there are too many people working from home. On the other hand, the type of people who write articles for major news sites seem to be in favor of telecommuting.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

February 25, 2013 at 7:13 PM

Posted in Labor Markets

41 Responses

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  1. So much for women bosses being different.

    The people who joined with the understanding of being able to work at home have a legitimate complaint in my opinion. It is not just inconvenient to commute. Silicon Valley has some of the highest priced housing in the country so they will either have to get expensive housing close to work or spend a lot of time and money commuting

    The main cause of high priced housing is zoning. If major employers want to attract more workers they should lobby for looser zoning laws instead of more H1B visas. If environmentalists cared about reducing auto pollution they should do the same.


    February 25, 2013 at 7:27 PM

    • My take on working from home from a small tech company owner.

      -. It’s not for everyone. a) Some people actually can’t communicate well by IM, email or phone. Definitely a good reason to hire people who can communicate well by any method. Nonetheless, the world is full of these people. They have to work in the office. b) Some people are indeed too distracted at home. They have to work in the office. On top of that, facebook should be blocked for those people in the office. c) People who are not self-starters, who need accountability, who are not motivated working not for themselves at home, they need to work in the office. d) Some don’t make great micro decisions on their own, frankly, and need too much communication to get anything done. That’s more difficult remotely. There’s a lot of those people out there too. Someone has to hire them. For HR, this is a policy mess, to allow some to work at home and some not to.

      – Communication is not nearly as good. a) It needs to be scheduled for when people are back to their IM client, which they wouldn’t be away from for very long in the office. b) Many people just don’t know where they stand after a written communcation. Feelings get hurt. You know the drill. c) Written communication is inefficient. It’s passive. It’s not immediate. Sometimes that’s good. Sometimes not.

      – Security has to be addressed. Our office is physically more secure than your home. Your laptop gets lost or stolen, and that becomes our problem. Your passwords get hacked due to your loose wifi network after your kid resets your router, and that’s our problem.

      – If you hate your office so much, you probably don’t like your job. If you don’t like your job, you’re not going to like it more from home. You’re going to like your life more, but you need to find other work you love more.

      – Working from home is not the same as working when you want to. These are two different things, sometimes combined. Working when you want to is completely separate and determined by job. If you need to remain available 9-5, then you don’t have that flexibility.

      – It’s not for small businesses/offices where people have to wear a lot of hats that the internet just doesn’t allow you to wear well.

      – Workers are not seeking out as much communication with other workers when they’re remote and can’t see each other. Out of sight, out of mind. Nothing like a room full of people working together. We find problems faster, because others tune into phone calls and hear post-phonecall dialogue about issues, etc. Remote workers hear nothing and see nothing and experience nothing that the rest of the group does together in the office.

      – Make no mistake, telecommuters are NOT working during their former commute time. The half hour to work and back formerly is not now filled with work. 9-5 is still 9-5. It doesn’t become 8:30 to 5:30 just because you’re home.

      – Relationships stagnate. People get bored. Workers have to work harder to maintain relationships. Workers need to feel a part of something, not disconnected from it. See how people act on the web when they are separate from the group?

      – Just do what your employer wants, whether at home or in the office. Work. Do your job. Love your work. If you don’t like your job or your boss or employer, find another job.

      – My take on pay: Telecommuters do and should make less money than their office counterparts. They get a huge break on wear and tear on the vehicle and gas consumption, clothes, time, food, etc. Should they work more to earn the same money? Yes. They don’t have to be as accountable. You can’t find such a benefit all over the place. It’s a luxury. You should pay for it.

      – From the workers’ perspective, remember, if you’re out of your employer’s sight, you may be out of his mind come eval/promotion/bonus time. If you can’t be seen and measure the old-fashioned way, you may get passed up for promotion if someone in the office is more visible and the relationship is better due to that proximity. That’s human nature.

      – If you can work from home, maybe your employer can simply outsource your job cheaper.

      – You’re more easily let go remotely too. Basically, you become more anonymous. It easier to transition you out the company if you’re not physically IN the company. Are you “real” anymore?

      – You’d better be one heck of a worker to expect to work from home very long in a good, small environment that is considering telecommuting. Hire slow. Fire fast.


      February 27, 2013 at 11:52 PM

  2. Didn’t or doesn’t Yahoo have some other woman in top management? Google strikes me as a very masculine company, which probably accounts for their success.


    February 25, 2013 at 7:33 PM

    • Marissa Mayer was one of the first 20 employees at Google. Until taking the helm at Yahoo, she spent her whole career at Google where she held a number of top executive positions.


      February 26, 2013 at 2:00 PM

    • It’s previous CEO was a woman, Carol Bartz.


      February 26, 2013 at 2:26 PM

  3. Quite a few companies do allow telecommuting, or “working from home” as it’s more commonly termed, if I recall correctly it’s something like more than a third of large companies. Of course not all jobs are suitable for telecommuting even if the company allows it.

    Speaking of telecommuting, I have a theory as to why rush hour traffic is as bad as ever even though unemployment is high. People who work for companies that allow telecommuting are afraid to do so, as they worry that if they’re not physically present in the office every single day management might start to think that they’re not completely indispensable to the companies. For similar reasons, I suspect that many people don’t take all their allotted vacation days, and will drag themselves into work when sick.



    February 25, 2013 at 7:43 PM

    • Most people I know who telecommute only do it one day a week (or every other week). That’s nice and all but not exactely lifestyle changing. My own situation gives me incredible flexibility in terms or where I live, trips I can take, things I can do, etc. Working from home becomes my main lifestyle rather then this nice little thing once a week.

      One thing they get out of it is I’ve never taken a sick day even though I have unlimited sick days. I’ve been sick all week but whats the big deal to answer an e-mail or two inbetween naps or a doctors visit. If I had to go into work to work I wouldn’t be doing any work.


      February 25, 2013 at 8:35 PM

  4. I work from home four days a week. I can say without reservation its the best job I’ve ever had. I’ve turned down offers with more money to keep this up.


    February 25, 2013 at 8:00 PM

    • How old are you, and what do you do?


      February 25, 2013 at 9:00 PM

  5. Yahoo is a prole website, full of mean and unoriginal articles, it isn’t surprising in the least that its CEO is stupid as well.


    February 25, 2013 at 8:41 PM

    • I’m the first to call a stupid chick stupid, but she isn’t stupid. She may be unwise, however.

      not too late

      February 27, 2013 at 11:31 AM

  6. More self-actualizers making high-end NYC RE purchases


    February 25, 2013 at 8:41 PM

    • I’m amazed Gallo has that kind of cash to spend. The only thing I have ever seem him in was the forgettable “Buffalo 66”, a typical pretentious indie type film. Ditto for music: I doubt anyone here has ever listened to anything with him on it. He is self made though: working class prole Italian family, so at least he isn’t like that schoolteacher with family financing a lavish apartment for him (or the spawn of corrupt Chinese autocrats going to college while living in mega buck accommodations).

      Gallo is definitely living the dream every hipster aspires to, but will never see.


      February 25, 2013 at 10:28 PM

  7. Maybe this is like using Obama to launch a massive increase in the use of flying robots to murder children. Maybe some powerful people within Yahoo (lol!) have wanted this to happen for a long time, but weren’t sure how to sell it. But who’s going to say no to the first FEMALE CEOMG
    Unrelated to this, I think that the powerful people in america are opposed to us little people telecommuting.


    February 25, 2013 at 8:58 PM

    • What a stupid interpretation of the drone campaign.


      February 26, 2013 at 8:41 AM

  8. I get a lot more work done at work than at home. I’m sure I’m not the only one.

    albert magnus

    February 25, 2013 at 9:29 PM

  9. Although telecommuting gives several advantages to an employer, such reduced need to lease office space, for supervisors and management, if they don’t have people right in front of them, it could lead to some insecurity. “If everyone is working at home and getting everything done, what am I good for?”

    I think you had some insecure management at Yahoo trying to feel important again.


    February 25, 2013 at 10:21 PM

  10. I read some speculation (i.e. anonymous online comments) that this was a policy move with forced attrition in mind, which was necessitated by primarily Indian (H-1b?) Yahoo employees who “work” from home and then take on a second work-from-home job. A couple of folks chimed in to say this phenomenon is widespread. I have no idea what the veracity of these claims is…


    February 25, 2013 at 10:46 PM

    • If the work-from-home employees are getting Yahoo’s job done, then why should Yahoo care if they have other jobs as well? If they are not getting Yahoo’s job done, then this is a reason to cut loose the unnecessary/underperforming employees, not a reason to get rid of telecommuting.


      February 26, 2013 at 8:43 AM

  11. my experience with working from home is that lots of people can’t handle the freedom. they need directives. some can, like the deadline oriented programmer loner at my dept.

    it’s an IQ/ time preference type of thing. the smart disciplined future oriented kind can handle it. the dumb distracted need constant directives.


    February 26, 2013 at 2:03 AM

  12. I’ve always hated working from home. I love the banter with my work mates, bouncing ideas off each other throughout the day, collaboration, getting help on something and giving help/mentoring if needed.

    And I don’t even work in tech. I would imagine in the tech world, things like this are even more important (hence why silicon valley campuses of tech giants are like amusement parks/college campuses).

    If i stayed at home, i wouldn’t do shit except turbo post on here and isteve.

    As for yahoo, 1. how are they still making money? Besides Y!Finance and Y!Sports, who under 30 uses it anymore? They outsourced their search algos to bing.

    Yahoo Sports is quite good and their fantasy sports games are a good blend of simplicity and depth compared to ESPN.

    Still, I wonder if the p/e is inflated because of investor belief in the super powers of mayer.


    February 26, 2013 at 2:38 AM

    • It’s still one of the top sites on the web, and Yahoo! Finance is still the best finance site.


      February 26, 2013 at 2:29 PM

  13. I read some speculation (i.e. anonymous online comments) that this was a policy move with forced attrition in mind, which was necessitated by primarily Indian (H-1b?) Yahoo employees who “work” from home and then take on a second work-from-home job. A couple of folks chimed in to say this phenomenon is widespread.

    I’ve had dealings with a lot of H-1b’s who work for my company, and I’ve been involved in the hiring process on many occasions. I’ve never heard of an H-1b being allowed to work from home.

    The whole point of hiring an H-1b is the flexibility – an H-1b will relocate anywhere at the drop of a hat, and will pay for it on their own dime. When you hire Santosh R to do your J2EE development based on a phone interview he will drive across the USA, have his visa holder pay for his extended stay hotel, and he will be ready to work on Monday morning 2 weeks out. A qualified American will cost way more for their hourly $$ salary and will not want to relocate on at their own expense.


    February 26, 2013 at 8:49 AM

    • Yeah, the point you make about H-1b’s not working offsite actually crossed my mind as I was posting.

      Perhaps the anecdote I relayed involved a different type of work visa (if such things exist?) or was, indeed, a complete bull shit story.


      February 26, 2013 at 11:13 PM

  14. Of course Yahoo wants its employees to come to the office.
    Their core business is providing ways to goof off at work.


    February 26, 2013 at 8:56 AM

  15. FYI… Marissa Mayer isn’t pregnant. She gave birth soon after being named Yahoo CEO, and has taken shit for “coming back to work too soon”.


    February 26, 2013 at 12:35 PM

  16. By the way, bringing a lot of remote workers back into traditional official setting will add extra costs for Yahoo. IBM has done lots of studies showing how much you can save on power, bandwidth, cubicles, maintenance, office supplies, etc. when you let IT workers go remote. (especially since some workers allowed to work remote don’t get to expense/reimbursement for their Internet connectivity at home as part of the deal)

    I hope her expected productivity gains will offset those added costs.


    February 26, 2013 at 1:28 PM

  17. I have a couple of friends who were recently laid off a few months after being allowed to work from home (or demoted out of the office) by their employers. A couple of weeks ago, when another friend told me that she had just started working from home, I got a foreboding feeling.


    February 26, 2013 at 1:56 PM

  18. Marissa Meyer has always struck me as an affirmative action hire, whether for her CEO position at Yahoo or being an ‘Engineer’ at Google.


    February 26, 2013 at 1:57 PM

    • Indeed. Compared with men in similar roles, her background is unimpressive (certainly no algorithm work at Google – more like graphic design), and her “foot in the door” at Google put her in the right place at the right time to cash in. Compare Mayer’s CV with that of someone like Schmidt.

      Yahoo would have been much smarter if they had installed a man, with a solid track record, at the helm. Having a female CEO may score PC brownie points in the short term, while setting Yahoo back otherwise.


      February 27, 2013 at 1:24 AM

      • She’s an intelligent woman, but she got really lucky too. She was also Larry Page’s girlfriend for a time, early on during the early days of Google (Page really likes those blue-eyed blondes). It’s always downplayed, but it obviously played a big part in her ability to sustain herself at Google at the right time. She’s incredibly smart, but she’s also incredibly lucky. During the dot com boom, I knew a lucky woman who was a secretary who made a few million from stock options, at a start-up. Some people got really really lucky.


        February 28, 2013 at 5:09 AM

  19. Lion, Mayer was pregnant when she was hired as CEO; she has since had her kid.


    February 26, 2013 at 2:30 PM

  20. According to All things D Mayer built a nursery next to her office for her kid and no one else to use.


    February 26, 2013 at 10:21 PM

  21. I predict the stock will be 20-30% lower between the day when she became CEO and the day the Board sh*ts her out.

    Female CEO is probably a good indicator of a company in decline.


    February 27, 2013 at 5:20 AM

  22. “Yahoo’s new young female pregnant CEO Marissa Mayer”

    Young for a CEO

    Old for a pregnant woman.

    not too late

    February 27, 2013 at 11:27 AM

  23. An easy trade is to go long companies run by men and short companies run by women.


    February 27, 2013 at 1:55 PM

    • But only after the honeymoon period is over. After the initial appointment, the stock price probably increases because of all the good feelings it engenders in bobo Wall Street analysts.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      February 27, 2013 at 8:44 PM

  24. Yahoo kisses Obama’s butt on a daily basis.

    Steve from Florida

    February 27, 2013 at 4:43 PM

  25. Marissa Mayer is another example of women screwing over women. There’s nothing about her work ethos or role that is beneficial to women in any way. Her 2 week maternity leave was an insult and a joke to women. Never mind her $300 million + net worth provides her with personal resources that are out of reach to normal people and enables her to continue her workaholism…when everything else is taken care of in the background.

    Women bosses are the worst! Women seem to turn into monsters the more they rise and achieve in the business world.


    February 28, 2013 at 5:01 AM

  26. A woman boss treats her position as a source of personal aggrandizement. Getting rid of telecommuting is an example of this. To her way of thinking, if she has to show up to work, then so does everyone else, even if showing up has no relationship to productivity.

    Women will oscillate between this kind of petty tyranny along with other pointless activities like endless brain-stoming sessions and other forms of make-work and endless meetings. Yahoo will become a leaderless company, jumping on every fad cooked up by whoever manages to get Mayer’s ear at the moment.

    The company is a long-term short.


    March 1, 2013 at 5:02 AM

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