Photo: Adam Tinworth
Last Friday, Yahoo HR boss Jackie Reses sent out a memo telling all remote employees that they needed to find a way to be working in an office by June.This upset lots of Yahoo employees – including some working mothers, who say they wish they could afford to build a nursery at the office the way CEO Marissa Mayer has.
But we’ve just heard from a former Yahoo engineer who tells us Mayer is making the exact right call.
“For what it’s worth, I support the no working form home rule. There’s a ton of abuse of that at Yahoo. Something specific to the company.”
This source said Yahoo’s large remote workforce led to “people slacking off like crazy, not being available, spending a lot of time on non-Yahoo! projects.”
“It was a great way to get Y! to pay you while you put in minimal work and do your side startup.”
Another ex-Yahoo, former ad tech executive Michael Katz, told us banning working from home was something Mayer “absolutely” had to do. “Working from home may be convenient for some but it represents a huge opportunity cost to the team, especially a team that’s trying to turn things around.”
“The value in human interaction is greater collective wisdom as a result of improved communication & collaboration.”
“It’s really all about improving the likelihood that meaningful interaction will translate to meaningful (shareholder) value.”
- Yahoo has a huge number of people of who work remotely – people who just never come in.
- Many of these people “weren’t productive,” says this source.
- “A lot of people hid. There were all these employees [working remotely] and nobody knew they were still at Yahoo.”
- These people aren’t just Yahoo customer support reps. They’re in all divisions, from marketing to engineering.
- Mayer is happy to give Yahoo employees standard Silicon Valley benefits like free food and free smartphones. But our source says the kinds of work-from-home arrangements popular at Yahoo were not common to other Valley companies like Google or Facebook. “This is a collaborative businesses.”
- Mayer saw another side-benefit to making this move. She knows that some remote workers won’t want to start coming into the office and so they will quit. That helps Yahoo, which needs to cut costs. It’s a layoff that’s not a layoff.
- Bigger picture: This is about Mayer “carefully getting to problems created by Yahoo’s huge, bloated infrastructure.” The company got fat and lazy over the past 15 years, and this is Mayer getting it into fighting shape.
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