Work Life Off Balance?
First thing I want say is that I am a big fan of Marissa Mayer. She is smart, driven, works in an industry that is male dominated and tech heavy. I should know – I work there too. Google and Yahoo are my vendors. As a female executive at Google and now the CEO at Yahoo, Marissa Mayer has played a large part in setting the stage for females in the internet marketing and paid search industry. As a working mom with two young children, and a paid search director responsible for a team of 20 in geographically dispersed areas – her decision to rescind the right of employees to work from home hit me in two ways.
Longing to Work from Home
First – as a woman who faces the work life balance each day, I have pined for a position that would allow me to work from home for some portion of the day. I dream of saving the hour commute each way to the office and spend those hours productively working on projects that never seem to get done. I could also take my children to after-school activities on certain days while making up the time after they go to bed. Right now, they don’t have the option of afterschool activities because both of their parents work full-time and are not home until 6pm. If I had a flexible work schedule I know how that would translate into my increased productivity and loyalty towards my employer.
Gen X Influence
Second, I am also of Generation X who grew up under two defining influences – the “Microsoft” and the Big 8 consulting cultures. Both were very similar “work hard, play hard, never leave the office”. “Microserfs” is a book by Douglas Coupland that illuminates the Bill Gates dominated culture of office slaves in Silicon Valley where foosball tables and video games at the office take the place of all other activities outside of work. And for the seven years I worked at Accenture – the 80-hour workweek and heroic feats of sleep deprivation were badges of honor. Leaving your “work family” to go home to your actual family was seen as an act of betrayal, or CLM (career-limiting move).
Can a Flexible Schedule Work?
Throughout my second career in internet marketing (specifically search marketing where Marissa Mayer reigns) I have been responsible for delivering results for clients by relying on my team of search professionals. Over the 12 years that I have been working in this industry my thoughts on work-from-home situations has evolved. I too was worried that having a team that was on different schedules and not cohesively sitting together for 8-9 hours each day would diminish what could be accomplished. But, as technology has evolved and due to limited resources in this industry I have been put in the position of giving some of my team members the ability to work from home or losing them. I decided to see how bad it would get. To my surprise it has actually worked. We have VPN technology, dial-ins and even without video (although we are now trying out Google Hang Outs) we have made it work on a small scale. I’ll say that again – on a small scale.
Issue with the Policy or the Execution?
It seems to me Marissa Mayer walked into a company where this situation isn’t working well in the large-scale world of Yahoo – approximately 11,500 employees with offerings in 45 languages in over 60 countries. It doesn’t mean it can’t work – but when your company is in trouble, which Yahoo is, circling the wagons may not be a bad way to start saving the company as a whole. Will she ever allow working from home again – perhaps, but I would bet only if there is a test of the program that delivers enough data to prove to her that it can work. I’ll speculate that it may be up to the employees at Yahoo to prove to her that allowing for a flexible work arrangement is in the company’s best interest.