I feel bad for Marissa Mayer. From the articles I’ve read, it seems she is receiving undue attention in regards to her decision to bring all Yahoo telecommuters back into the office starting in July. Why do I feel bad? Because the decision she made is a sound one, but the criticism she’s getting is due to the fact that she’s a woman who just had a baby while simultaneously taking on a new job in an ailing company. Ms. Mayer was hired to do a job and that is to get Yahoo to a place of profitability, a place their current strategy clearly has not brought them to. Yahoo chose right when they put her at the helm—only a woman can juggle this many projects at once with elegance and grace!
At some point in our society having children became a disadvantage to working women. Women, history shows us, either cut back on their hours to raise their children or left the workforce altogether. These choices harmed their careers as they chose to make themselves more available to be with their children. At the same time, career women went in the opposite direction, working harder and longer hours than their male counterparts. Was this to demonstrate that they were just as capable? If these women had children of their own, this work schedule meant that they had to outsource their own childcare duties onto someone else. Well, it’s time we as women create a new way to do business, and refuse to keep trying to plug our square peg into a round hole that is not working for us, for our children, or for our businesses.
What is the right answer? I’d like to offer my suggestion (it is my blog, after all!)—a hybrid. Speaking from experience, I’ve experienced a range of unsatisfactory working conditions, from many years locked in a cubicle with no flexibility to working remotely from home, feeling isolated and unproductive. Why does it have to be either/or? Once a business is running where it needs to be, it can utilize a combination of the two, with workers in the office two or three days a week, working from a remote location or a coworking space instead of commuting on other days, and then reserving an afternoon to be at home. But you must establish solid teamwork before you let your team members loose.
The bottom line is that the magic of collaboration in a team comes from face-to-face human interaction. This type of psychic energy does not flow through computer screens and telephone lines. The magic of collaboration happens in the hallways, at the water cooler, or in a coworkers’ office at an impromptu brainstorming session. That is what Ms. Mayer is seeking to bring back to Yahoo. Let them get their mojo back, and who knows what the future will hold for Yahoo employees. I bet we’ll be reading about them getting their flex time again once the company has returned to being competitive!