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Yahoo's telework clampdown: Why it happened

Marissa Mayer

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer. (Wikimedia Commons)

How did Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer come to the decision to ban telework in the company? Slacking employees were betrayed by the very technology on which they depended.

According to media reports, such as this one by Nicholas Carlson at businessinsider.com, Mayer analyzed logs for Yahoo's virtual private network, which showed when employees were logging into the company's systems to do work. What she found was that they were not doing it often enough.

Telework advocates blasted the move, but Mayer's decision to require employees to come to the office was met with widespread internal approval -- at least according to one unnamed source in Carlson's story. "There isn't massive uprising. The truth is, they've all been [angry] that people haven't been working," the source said.

But is it that simple? According to Kara Swisher, writing at allthingsd.com, the reaction to Mayer's directive has "been mixed but heated, essentially pitting employees against each other in an awkward way. But the reaction from outside the company has been decidedly negative."

What do you observe at your workplace? Are teleworking feds performing diligently, or are they taking advantage of the opportunities to loaf?

Posted by Michael Hardy on Mar 08, 2013 at 12:10 PM

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Reader comments

Tue, Mar 12, 2013 Jermain Gordon Maryland

Telework fullfills a need and the entire company should not have been punished for the laziness of some employees. I think the employees all should have been warned and or required to reduce their telework hours and start coming in to work.

Mon, Mar 11, 2013

We had an informal policy (mid-size company) and it was abused by EVERYONE! Now we have a telecommuting policy that says that there is NO telecommuting. In Ca., we also have Worker' Comp issues. Exempt employees are allowed, at their supervisor's discretion to let the EE work on a specifc project at home, for example, 1 day, if they have a deadline coming up.

Mon, Mar 11, 2013 Federal Employee 305

If telework is not managed properly by Management, then failure is inevitable. I am a frequent telework and tend to have an increase in productivity when teleworking. I would not want to do 5 days a week. I keep my telework to about 1 day a week. I enjoy the ineraction with my fellow co-workers and you just don't get that face time when teleworking.

Mon, Mar 11, 2013 Just say'n Atlanta, GA

I think managers are worried about their jobs and control over staff. Being able to touch the top of someone's head over an 8-9 hour period does not equate to 8-9 hours of productivity. And, just because someone is not logged into the server does not mean they aren't working. They are probably trying not to use up bandwidth that others can use for tasks that don't call for them to be online. Measure staff by what they produce whether it is a product or a service. If an employee does not produce while at work, why would you allow them to work at home in the first place? The others are probably giving you more productivity than if they have to take out the time for dressing, commuting, etc. Marissa sort of threw out the baby with the bath water (with the slap of building her own nursery needs 1st--day care for all would take the sting out of the non-telework too). Not only were excellent telework employees punished, but now the company's infrastructure costs will sky rocket and all of the employees just got an increase in the cost of having their job that they had never had before. Doesn't sound too well thought out to me.

Mon, Mar 11, 2013

Does work require you to be logged into the VPN? I used to telework full time and the majority of my work was done off-line, I only connected to the VPN to upload completed work, check email etc. The previous commentor is correct, this is a Management problem, NOT a telework problem.

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