In its bid to reshape itself for the future, Yahoo is returning to a workplace culture of the tech industry’s past. The Internet giant has reportedly notified its employees they’ll no longer be allowed to work from home. According to an internal memo leaked to tech site All Things D, employees who previously enjoyed teleworking will have to start showing up at an office by June.
The move goes against a popular workplace perk among tech companies and a wider trend toward more work-from-home options across several industries.
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Joann Keyton (North Carolina State University) suggests some key “Takeaways” on the story:
From accounts in the news, Marissa Mayer of Yahoo inherited a messy organizational culture. So, to take back some control of Yahoo’s culture, she announced that employees would no longer be able to work remotely (that is, from home or wherever else they were working). Seems like a reasonable management strategy.
But is it?
Being able to work remotely signals values, such as trust and competency. In essence, the organization trusts the employees to work off the premises because employees are competent. But this change in policy signals another set of values: lack of trust. And it is likely this conflict of values that will make it hard for Yahoo employees to embrace whatever culture Mayer sets forth.
Lack of communication and collaboration has been cited as Mayer’s reason for this turnaround. But was Mayer’s strategy effective? It will be a while before that can be assessed.
Would another strategy have worked better? Likely so. Mayer could have modeled communication and collaboration with Yahoo employees by holding cross-unit meetings to get their ideas about how to address the perceived culture crisis. By announcing the change in a company memo from the human resources officer, Mayer essentially scolded Yahoo employees for being irresponsible.
The result: Now Mayer has another culture crisis to address.