Yes, I admit, having it all is a little extreme – but I don’t think wanting to have a balance between your work life and your real life is too much to ask. This conversation comes up in the midst of Yahoo!’s CEO, Marissa Mayer, announcing to the company that employees will no longer be able to work from home. I, like many others, find this news upsetting and honestly very surprising. This 2013, we have an amazing amount of technology in the world that allows us to communicate and do business with people on the other side of the planet, yet, we need to have butts in seats at the office. I have worked in many offices that were also passionate about “face-time” which is one of the main reasons I am now working for myself, from the comfort of my own home. What this sounds like to me, if I was a Yahoo! employee, is that Yahoo! really does not trust their employees anymore. Or maybe one or two bad apples spoiled it for the rest of them. It would seem to me that if employees are getting their work done and being proactive in their jobs, why change a good thing? I have another question for Mrs. Mayer: Now that employees will be full-time in the office, will they now be providing compensations for their employees child care costs or other expenses that will be incurred when they are back in the office full-time? Maybe they will be opening a Yahoo! daycare on site so that everyone can bring their children into the office, like Mayer does.
The problem that upsets me most about this story is the fact that Mayer obviously understands the importance of the bond between mother and baby, raising children yourself and having quality time with them, yet she doesn’t want to pass on that flexibility the rest of the company? I am only focusing on one area of why people work from home, which is childcare, obviously this is an issue for me. But I am certain there are plenty of other reasons people work from home, caring for elderly parents, saving time and money on the commute and gas prices. Working from home also allows some the ability to focus without distractions. In an office of hundreds of people, you may get pulled into meeting after meeting, and have no time to get that one project done (especially if you have to leave at certain time for other responsibilities), being able to work remotely will allow you the ability to focus and get it done. I also wonder if this new announcement will work the other way too, since no one is going to be able to work from home, does that mean no emails, calls or work will be done after work hours? Once that bell rings 5pm, everyone will punch their time cards, put their smart phones away and not have another thought about work until 8am the next morning. Is that really what they want? Don’t those folks in Silicon Valley work with people overseas and on other time zones… sorry can’t get back to you until the morning, we don’t work from home!
Clearly, my blog post on the issue will not change anything over at Yahoo! but it does validate my position on being a part-time, work from home, mom. Although I have days and weeks that I feel frustrated and doubtful that this was the right choice. Maybe starting my own consulting business and trying to become a writer are lofty goals, but the main reason I chose this path is because I wanted to call my own shots. I want to do the work that I am passionate about and I also want to go on my kids field trips without having to ask permission. Right now I am learning to balance it all out, I may have to get up at 5:30am so I can write, but that also means that I am able to walk my girls to school and pick them up and I will fit in my work in between, before and after, because that is what has to work for me. I think it is sad that a lot of companies today can’t understand that giving employees a bit of freedom and flexibility will help both the company and the employees in the long run. By trusting your employees to do their job, no matter how they get it done, will keep them around longer and become more loyal to a company that is also loyal to them.
Here is some perspective from Dilbert on the subject: