It’s Lonely at the Top, Especially if You Are Not Allowed to Telecommute

Posted on February 26, 2013

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Yahoo! LogoThere has been quite a stir about the decision to make Yahoo! employees work from offices as opposed to working partially or full time from home. A memo was issued by the head of HR, but all the stories I read focus on the CEO, Marissa Mayer. The controversy mandating employees work from corporate offices focuses on two things: is it fair to working parents and do remote workers produce more and better work than office workers? So the question is: is it better for a business to have a centralized office, a remote workforce, or a combination? The answer is simple; there is no right answer. At Event 360, a majority of our team works remotely from home offices, and it’s awesome for the company and our families. And managing a remote team is extremely challenging and frustrating; because it can be hard.

At Event 360, this virtual office environment works for us. And … most here that have worked and managed in this environment will attest both to its power and its many challenges, so it’s not a simple cut and dry case.

The part that I don’t understand about the latest debate is how critical people are of the decision based on the CEO being a mother (does someone being a father factor into leadership decision making?). This is not new; once again critics are making it about her being a mother and not about her as a leader. Yes, she is a role model, all CEOs are, but first she must lead with the bar of success being the same, a stronger and more profitable company. My understanding is Yahoo! has not been on a growth arc for some time now. That’s why they have had several new CEOs. It’s a CEO’s job to drive change; change is partially driven by culture. The “no working from home” edict falls into the “for there to be change, you must change” category. That’s a leader’s job.

One other thing, the whole framing around the decision that Mayer is a mother and thus should have more empathy for working parents is missing the point. What does that have to do with anything? The board of directors did not hire a mother, they hired the person they thought could help Yahoo! accomplish its purpose and drive growth. I work for a company where the majority of leadership has young children. We all love our families. We all want to spend time with them, but we also need to make a living. That means leaders have to make the best decisions for building a robust business. Work from home, or work from the office, leaders must make hard decisions based on incomplete information and lots of conflicting opinions. She did not ask for it, but the Yahoo! CEO has my vote of confidence. 

Jim GrohmanJim Grohman provides project teams and managers leadership and guidance to ensure flawless delivery. A former Major with the United States Marine Corps, Jim is a member of the Project Management Institute (PMI) and is certified as a PMI Project Management Professional.

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