Marissa Mayer and Yahoo's new work from home policy

A friend wrote the following on Facebook regarding Yahoo’s new work at home policy linking to this article:

I can get on board with the idea that effective communication and close collaboration can stimulate innovation, but this line I would have stricken from the memo: “Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home”. Couldn’t disagree more. If that’s the case, you are hiring the wrong people.

Now, I would agree with the part about it being “the wrong people”.

I think it’s both an interesting and telling move on Ms. Mayer’s part. I suspect reading between the lines she found a very dysfunctional corporate culture after joining Yahoo following a parade of CEO’s over the last several years she wants/needs to break. Those who can’t deal will leave, they should have left on their own accord long before now. Taking this view the move could easily cull the ranks of those silently dissenting employees without the need for a dreaded RIF. Some good people may leave too though if they buy Marissa’s vision they’d likely find a way to make it work. Right or wrong I respect and admire her initiative to make a difficult decision.

Kudos.

Having worked for large companies (UNUM, Borland & Microsoft) I can easily see and appreciate how this sort of move can set a new tone throughout the organization. Small organizations use working from home as an incentive to attract and retain talent whereas I believe large companies can draw much more on culture to attract people to the office every day. That’s exactly how I felt working at Borland (though not at MSFT). While at Borland I felt if I wasn’t in the office I was truly missing something as did all of my collegues and I imagine that’s the sort of culture Marissa seeks to rebuild at Yahoo. I would guess over the years at least some Yahoo employees lost the passion during the CEO parade, an unfortunate similarity to Borland.

I’m certainly not ruling out culture at small startup-centric companies particularly those where the employees all work out of the same office but I think for many passion is three fold, 1) the idea, 2) belief in the product and 3) the team all of which played a roll for me at Borland making Delphi a small startup within a large organization.

Btw, I’m no longer a Yahoo user though I look forward to seeing what Marissa can do at Yahoo and wish her luck.