Just last week I wrote about big changes at Yahoo. Marissa Mayer presided over the unveiling of a new Yahoo homepage to help redefine the company and its brand. It was a change four years in the making and was well received by most users for the most part. This was just one of many changes that Marissa Mayer has had a hand in to help turn Yahoo around since she was hired last year in July. One recent change announced late last week and picked up in the press heavily yesterday and into today, might be the wrong one, for the company and for its image.
No More Working from Home
The news that Marissa Mayer had announced, according to Peter Cohan at Forbes, that “Yahoo’s 14,500 employees have until June to drive into work every day – otherwise they could be fired” has come as a shock to many in the tech and online business world.
Part of the benefit to working online is the fact that it gives employees flexibility to work from wherever they need to work. They get to balance other aspects of their life more easily with work. For a company that is in the midst of restructuring and recreating its image, a change affecting its employees this drastically seems to be counterintuitive.
The main reason behind this provided by Mayer and Yahoo’s HR chief was that, in his words as Jessica Guynn reports for the LA Times, “We need to be working side-by-side…We need to be one Yahoo, and that starts with physically being together.” Ok, I get that, but it’s a slippery slope when you question your own employees loyalty and affinity for teamwork simply because they enjoy a perk that many employees would love to have.
Most importantly, as Jessica reports, the move by Mayer might be considered one to “trim unproductive workers” without having to pay for layoffs but “in the process may have gotten more bad publicity than she bargained for.” Bloggers, pundits, and powerful online voices have risen up in criticism of the move. There’s no doubt there are a lot of upset Yahoo employees as well.
There are some who say it’s not as bad of a decision as many are thinking, but they are in the minority online. I think the consequences of this move will not be good for Yahoo. Elizabeth Weise and Jon Swartz at USA Today reported yesterday an obvious result of the move, writing, “social media have been full of news about other tech firms eager to poach Yahoo employees by touting their flexibility as a competitive advantage.” This very well could lure talent away from Yahoo, the very thing the company does not need right now.
A Bad Decision
I’m in the same boat as the critics of this move. Yahoo needs to have the best people it can to get its work done and beat its rivals; it has some serious competition. The company had been making a lot of great moves lately: revamping the homepage, integrating social media throughout their platforms, utilizing new ad services, and more. But to myself and many others, this is a step backwards.
An online business can go through everything they need to be successful online. They can hire an agency to produce quality content, or write it themselves if they have that capability. They can start utilizing social media to its fullest. As they gain Twitter followers and Facebook friends their popularity will grow. Businesses can run Google Ads and use other ad services online to expand their presence and reach more customers.
But a business, online or brick-and-mortar, cannot truly reach its potential without a dedicated team of employees making everything happen. It’s too early to tell if this change at Yahoo will be disastrous, or just a minor setback. But if the company loses valuable talent over this move, this might be a decision that Mayer looks back on and says, “that was a mistake.” Besides, the web is already saying it.
What do you think about Marissa Mayer’s decision?
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