Following in Yahoo’s footsteps.
Look out, telecommuters, you might be the next to lose the precious privilege of working from home. In the wake of Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s ban on telecommuting, Best Buy has decided to end its own work-from-home program. It’s not really as bad as it sounds. Some of the 4,000 nonstore employees who enjoyed the widely popular Results Only Work Environment (ROWE) program that allowed them to make their own flexible schedules or work from home may still be permitted to do so; they just now need to get permission from a manager. “It used to be a right about which a manager had no say. Now it’s a conversation,” a Best Buy spokesperson explained. “We believe in employee flexibility but are looking for it to come in the context of a conversation between that employee and their manager.”
Despite outraged headlines Yahoo’s new work-from-home ban hurts moms, it has an even bigger effect on men, who are more likely to work from home and care as much as women about having a flexible work schedule.
Based on the media hyperbole surrounding Yahoo’s recent decision to call telecommuters back to the office, one might think this decision only or mainly affects mothers. Since the news broke and my column appeared on The Daily Beast last week, I’ve been on radio and television shows, done numerous media interviews, and read blogs where it is positioned this way time and time again.
From one radio host, I heard, “This is a blow to new mothers.” Another interviewer questioned whether this recall could be construed as illegal discrimination, “because it would have a disproportionate impact on a minority group—this policy change will almost certainly disadvantage women more than men.” And while Time’s Bonnie Rochman was very perceptive, her headline fell into the it’s-a-mom-thing supposition: “How Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer Is Building a Nursery By Her Office and Dissing Working Moms.”
But this isn’t the reality! According to the Families and Work Institute’s nationally representative study of the U.S. workforce:
- Men actually have more access to telecommuting than women. Men (19 percent) are significantly more likely than women (13 percent) to be allowed to work part of their regular paid hours at home.
A stroke of brilliance to jump-start a struggling company, or a boneheaded move that’ll piss off employees? The Daily Beast checks out the opposing views.
Yahoo Has It Wrong
Farhad Manjoo, Slate
“Mayer is going to regret this decision. It’s myopic, unfriendly, and so boneheaded that I worry it’s the product of spending too much time at the office. (She did, after all, build a nursery next to her office to house her new baby). It’s not just that the policy completely elides the virtues of working from home. Numerous studies have found that people can be more productive when they’re allowed to work away from the office.”
Maureen Dowd, The New York Times
“Maybe as Mayer rejuvenates “the grandfather” of Internet companies, as she calls Yahoo, she needs the energy and synergy of a start-up mentality. She seems to believe that enough employees are goofing off at home that she should bring them off the cloud and into the cubicle. But she should also be sympathetic to the very different situation of women—and men—struggling without luxurious layers of help.”
Marissa Mayer is making a big mistake in banning telecommuting. Working remotely improves productivity and morale, says Ellen Galinsky, and that’s a win for everyone.
Should Yahoo shareholders care that the company's new CEO is six months pregnant? Of course not, says Michelle Goldberg on today's NewsBeast. Join Goldberg, Michael Daly, and John Avlon on our daily roundtable.