Marissa Mayer continues to make her mark on Yahoo. After her high-profile move from Google and speedy return to work after giving birth, then launching a new Yahoo homepage, the high-profile CEO has made some changes to how employees work at the organisation.
Multiple press sources took great pleasure in reporting the apparent employee backlash against Mayer’s plan to move all employees back into office-based working arrangements. This seems to undo quite a volume of flexible working arrangements in place.
All Things Digital have reproduced the internal memo in full (from Yahoo’s HRD) which pointed to the business advantages of having all employees working from Yahoo premises.
The changes begin in June, according to the Yahoo memo. After that, employees who work from home must comply without exception or quit. One top manager was told that there would be little flexibility on the issue. The anger from impacted employees was strong today, because many felt they were initially hired with the assumption that they could work more flexibly.
To me, this represents another high profile organisational change which has the potential to negatively impact employees’ work-life balance, engagement and even productivity. The reports of employee anger point to their psychological – if not legal – contracts being breached.
I would be very interested to understand if this change is being implemented on the back of research which demonstrates the negative impact of home-working on organisational productivity, or if it is based on a “feeling” that things would work better with employees working under closer supervision. Yahoo believes that speed and quality are negatively impacted by home-working. Many of their employees appear to differ.
The ideal situation would be for any organisation worried about the impact of flexible working arrangements to conduct some research to measure this impact and understand if it applies only to certain roles or during certain periods during the year. A data-driven policy would potentially be better received by employees.
Indeed, by gathering data in the first place, an organisation might find out that its fears aren’t materialised in terms of productivity or creativity hits.
Also, if productivity is indeed an issue, is removing a perceived perk from employees really the best response?
I’ll be watching this one as it plays out.