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Yahoo's Mayer is like a controlling parent who does not trust her children

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer 02

 (Reuters)

Yahoo! Chief Executive Officer Marissa Mayer’s decision to end her company’s “working from home” policy sounds like a controlling parent who does not trust her children to do their homework. 

This unfortunate decision primarily and negatively impacts working moms and dads who need the flexibility to manage and balance their work and home lives. Mayer, a young mom at the helm of the digital tech giant, built a nursery for her child in the office (which she paid for with her own money) yet is all for limiting childcare options for other working parents.

Many of Mayer’s employees don’t have her resources. Along with her office nursery, Mayer can easily afford full-time help to raise her child. A "no work from home" policy adds unnecessary stress and creates negative morale among Yahoo employees, especially for working moms and dads who are juggling their schedules and balancing their work and family life.

Sure, Mayer needs to eliminate abuses in the system. If employees are irresponsible and not completing their tasks, then she should make changes, cut costs, and get rid of ‘unproductive’ staff; especially since she is desperately trying to turn Yahoo's fortunes around. 

To do that Mayer should make workers accountable for their results and cut the “fat,” but not punish those workers who rely on the work from home policy. Her changes seem outdated, extreme and not responsive to the realities of today’s families and workplace.

Yahoo is one of the most sophisticated technology companies in the world and by now should have figured out how to use its resources efficiently and effectively. Nowadays businesses across the country depend on iPads, iPhones (thank you Steve Jobs) and Blackberries to be more productive and get work done in a timely fashion.

Mayer wants to build “one” Yahoo by encouraging her workers to spend time together. Building work relationships are important, but her uncompromising approach actually hurts them in the long term. A better solution would have been to cut down on telecommuting and request that individuals go into office meetings certain times a week.

Eliminating the work from home policy altogether leaves little room for parents to have a flexible schedule. Some people work best in the early morning or late at night after the children go to bed. In fact, 80 percent of Americans continue working after they leave the office. Many times creative ideas come in the middle of the night or in one’s garage. Just ask Bill Gates.

Mayer’s drastic approach may help cut “the excess fat” in the company, but along the way she will be sacrificing talented and creative women and men who may need the flexibility to be successful both at home and at work. 

One lesson I’ve learned is that a happy home leads to a productive work life. If the children and spouse are unhappy, then that employee can’t concentrate at work, especially if they’re chained to their desk for eight hours or more.

Working moms across the country were thrilled when Mayer became the youngest woman CEO in the country. However, her recent action is incredibly disappointing and backwards. 

As a young mom herself, she would be greatly admired if she could find ways to support her employees instead of treating them like irresponsible children. Working moms and dads have enough stress managing their lives and don’t need a controlling boss to make their work environment intolerable.

Yahoo executives believe in the power of the laptop as long as it is chained to their employees’ cubicle in corporate headquarters. I suppose it would drive Mayer nuts to know that I'm writing this post from my kitchen table and will make deadline even after I changed the baby’s diaper and prepared lunch.

Mercedes V. Schlapp is a mother of 5 daughters and co-founder of Cove Strategies.  She was Director of Specialty Media at the White House under President George W. Bush.