Why I Think the Yahoo Flex Work Decision Makes Perfect Sense

People have asked me what I think of Yahoo’s decision to no longer allow employees to work from home.

I think it makes sense.

Yahoo is a fractured business. They are so schizophrenic that they really don’t know who works for them and where. (Despite the best payroll systems, this is very common.)

In order to understand labor costs, they are calling upon employees to be present and accountable.

Yahoo’s goal? Understanding its labor force

Through this effort, Yahoo will consolidate internal politics and define institutional power.

Once Yahoo understands its labor force, they will be in a better place to either merge with another organization or be purchased.

That’s it.

Right now, Yahoo doesn’t know who is working for them and why. That’s a weak HR department. Instead of empowering HR, Marissa Meyer is taking a different approach. It works — but only if you’re going to find another HR leader or another HR infrastructure to support your people.

So watch for big changes at Yahoo.

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The important questions we should ask

On the other hand, Richard Branson thinks it’s a good strategy to allow employees to work from wherever is appropriate. He thinks you can attain profitability while respecting work/life balance.

I think we are all just one step away from automation and being replaced by robots and algorithms. I think the “work from home” controversy is a subterfuge.

  • Are you paid a living wage?
  • Do you do meaningful work?
  • Does your boss value your input over a robot?

Those are the important questions.

So don’t buy into the hype. Where you work is irrelevant. How you work — and whether or not you are respected — is more important.

This was originally published on Laurie Ruettimann’s The Cynical Girl blog.


Laurie Ruettimann (LFR) is a former Human Resources leader turned influential speaker, writer and strategist. She owns a human resources consultancy that offers a wide array of HR services to human resources leaders and executives. Check out her LinkedIn profile here. You may know Ruettimann as the creator of The Cynical Girl and Punk Rock HR (retired), which Forbes named as a top 100 website for women. You may have also read her book, I AM HR: 5 Strategic Ways to Break Stereotypes and Reclaim HR. (RepCap Press, 2014.) 


1 Comment on “Why I Think the Yahoo Flex Work Decision Makes Perfect Sense

  1. People are getting all caught up in the surface of this issue. Yes telecommuting is nice. But I don’t think Mayer is killing it just for kicks. She is young and understands the Silicon Valley culture. She’s not stupid.
    I think she is sucking it up and doing what is best to turn this company around. I think she is trying to get a handle on whether managers know what their employees are doing, whether they are getting results, whether people can work together f2f, etc. You bet there will be changes — big ones. And I don’t think she cares if people leave. If they leave so be it. They are bloated anyway.
    For someone that interviews every candidate prior to hiring — she obviously cares a great deal about the quality of employees. Could be she wants better quality and is willing to let employees leave that believe telecommuting is an “entitlement”.

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