The internet is in an uproar again: Marissa Mayer told Yahoo! remote workers to come back to the mothership or leave.
Initially, I was like everyone else – appalled that Mayer would have such disregard for the many hard-working remote folks at Yahoo! and surprised that she would shoot herself in the foot so badly.
On the HackerNews post, I wrote:
Why does pulling people into the office finally give Yahoo the ability to fire under-performers? You don’t need to see butts in seats in order to identify people who are not pulling their weight.
If people are coasting at home OR at the office you can tell that by their work output. Where they do their work doesn’t enter into it.
Adopting a Results Only Work Environment (http://gorowe.com) would allow them to have folks who work from anywhere and give management the tools to fire under-performers.
If this were only a temporary measure, a “reset” so to speak, then I still don’t agree with it (I think you can do that without the disruption), but it would be understandable. As they have not said that this is temporary, I have no reason to think it’ll come back in the future, which is the tragedy.
It doesn’t have to be like this.
The more I think about it though, I was wrong. Yes, the internet is right that remote workers are not inherently unproductive and that pulling everyone back punishes the many for the misdeeds of the few. More gallingly, revoking remote work shows you don’t trust your coworkers.
You know what? She probably doesn’t.
Since 2009, Yahoo! has had 5 CEOs (interim or otherwise) and gone through at least one complete reorg. Lots of people are coming out of the woodwork stating that remote work at Yahoo! was like a vacation. And, Yahoo! has long been the butt of a joke:
How do you take a profitable, popular startup and kill it?
So, can you really trust anyone at the company? Sure, some responsible remote workers are caught in the crosshairs but with reports of “We’ve checked and some people who work from home haven’t even logged into the VPN” how can you trust their immediate management to do the right thing? And their managers?
Whom can you trust? Who is taking advantage of Yahoo and who is merely caught up in the downward-spiral that has been Yahoo! for the last decade?
Marissa wants to look into every employee’s eyes and make that call. And I can’t really blame her. There’s probably more dead wood at Yahoo! than South Dakota in the 1870’s, and it’s going to be a long, slow journey to get things back on track.