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Yahoo! Technology

Mayer Terminates Yahoo's Remote Employee Policy 524

Posted by timothy
from the gonna-ask-you-to-come-in-on-saaaaaturday dept.
An anonymous reader writes "AllThingsD's Kara Swisher reported and tweeted that Marissa Mayer (CEO since July 2012) has just sent an all-hands email ending Yahoo's policy of allowing remote employees. Hundreds of workers have been given the choice: start showing up for work at HQ (which would require relocation in many cases), or resign. (They can forget about Yahoo advice pieces like this). Mayer has also been putting her stamp on Yahoo's new home page, which was rolled out Wednesday."
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Mayer Terminates Yahoo's Remote Employee Policy

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  • At you desk! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tylikcat (1578365) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @12:36PM (#42989647)

    Because face time is so much more important that actual work.

    • Re:At you desk! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 23, 2013 @12:48PM (#42989711)

      Because face time is so much more important that actual work.

      I work in a small team where one member of the team works remotely one day a week. There's definitely less feeling of teamwork when he's out of the office despite him being available via IM, email, video conference (though we almost never do that) and phone. There's a big difference between "Hey John, this is weird, can you come take a look at this", and while we're talking it over, Bob in the next cube pops his head over and says "Oh yeah, I saw that yesterday, here's how I fixed it".

      Using screensharing and IM/phone just isn't the same.

      But some jobs lend themselves well to remote working, like customer service agents. I worked at a company that had almost their entire workforce working from home, we were low on office space so using remote workers saved us a lot of money since we didn't have to rent new office space to accommodate them and we didn't have to have enough desks to handle the holiday rush that would sit empty for the rest of the year. Accountability was easy since the phone system kept the same call statistics for remote workers as for local workers (including time spent answering customer service emails) and the manager monitored random calls to make sure the home worker was professional without any background noises like kids/pets.

      • Re:At you desk! (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 23, 2013 @01:03PM (#42989799)

        A lot of the level of teamwork is dependent on what the team is comfortable with. I have worked in groups where we would communicate via IM even if we are just over the wall from each other. For me, switching to another window to IM is much less intrusive to my workflow than getting up.

        When I'm in an idea generation phase, it is definitely helpful to have people together for that. There is a certain level of creativity that seems to get lost when I can't read all of the physical cues and overall vibes of the conversation.

        • Re:At you desk! (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot&hackish,org> on Saturday February 23, 2013 @02:30PM (#42990385)

          That's the case with me as well. The most tight-knit collaboration happens among the subset of people, both local and remote, who idle in an IRC channel we have. Whether someone uses IRC and is reasonably responsive on it is a much better predictor of connectedness to my own projects than when they're local or remote. That said, if they aren't going to use IRC, it's better to be local than remote.

        • Re:At you desk! (Score:5, Insightful)

          by BoRegardless (721219) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @03:54PM (#42990947)

          Some studies have shown that an interruption where you totally lose focus for another discussion causes you to take 15-20 minutes to get "back into the groove" of complex work.

          I understand this from my own work when it is complex. It doesn't have to be difficult, but just involve many things the mind juggles when attempting to come up with the best solution or design.

      • This. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by sirwired (27582) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @01:54PM (#42990169)

        I work for a close-knit high-level support group. Our problems are complex and varied enough that I cannot imagine working from home routinely. Nothing beats overhearing somebody in an adjacent cube mumble something about an issue that you dealt with vaguely six months ago, and then you hop up, scrawl something on a whiteboard, and then call over another couple people to check it out with you.

        Yes, all this is theoretically possible via IM, (even the sketching, with special equipment), but things like overhearing others, and the instant, high-speed collaboration just isn't possible remotely. (I can talk much faster than I type, and there isn't any concept of "overhearing" a colleague discuss something if you are on other sides of the country.)

      • Re:At you desk! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Austerity Empowers (669817) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @02:15PM (#42990307)

        Well I don't work remotely, but if Bob kept popping his head over my cube I'd get annoyed with him fast, this is a reason I frequently work from home or starbucks or just any damn place other than my cube. There's a time of day to discuss problems, and there's a time of day to get work done. You schedule meetings for that discussion thing, you make them as short as possible, and you agree on a time of day when everyone needs to be available (usually "normal work hours", or the subset including all US time zones).

        You can do that via some live meeting method, or you can do it in a conference room. There is no difference, only some real dinosaurs who mostly haven't survived the industry think otherwise. The only possible objective here is that she has to lay off some people, she can't necessarily afford a layoff (i.e. severance, litigation risks, etc.), so she's changing a policy to cause people to voluntarily resign. The risk of course is that if people do not quit, and take her up on the relo, she may end up spending more.

        If Yahoo! is in SF, then I'd quit, it's too expensive and would require too much of a cost of living reduction. I imagine she's banking on that.

      • Re:At you desk! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Bodero (136806) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @03:01PM (#42990585)

        You're right... Remote working doesn't work when it's a small part of the team. The rest communicates via their usual face to face measures, and the remote worker is isolated.

        When the whole team works remotely, though, the methods of communication change to accommodate.

      • by aminorex (141494)

        Most people are not comfortable with different. I prefer not to work with those people, in part because they are unlikely to do anything innovative. The most creative, innovative, and diligent people I know are remote workers. They sometimes have one or two bad experiences before they find a team that can collaborate effectively in multiple modes and media. When they do, the results are magic.

      • Re:At you desk! (Score:4, Interesting)

        by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @04:10PM (#42991053)

        silicon valley person, here.

        my current place has so many non-english languages spoken (in cubes, in the hallway, etc) that even hearing people talk about work means NOTHING to me.

        should I say something to management? probably not. it would not be interpreted in the well-meaning fashion that I would have intended.

        but I definitely do NOT benefit from being on-site when almost no one speaks english as a first language and people fall back to their native tongues, even in the formal office environment.

        what do folks think about that? a US company where the office has very little english spoken in the hallways, cubes, etc.

        official meetings in conference rooms are in english, of course, but that's not what you were talking about in your post.

        maybe there's something I could comment on or help with - IF I only knew what they were talking about.

        personally, I find it rude, but again, I won't say anything about it at work. if they don't 'get it', my saying anything about it won't help any.

        but I might as well be at home since being there is not the benefit you listed.

      • Re:At you desk! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 23, 2013 @05:19PM (#42991419)

        Actual Real Life Event:

        My large blue employer terminated work from home several years ago. I now sit in a several hundred office cube farm with a shoulder level barrier between cubes that are 6 feet at most apart. For a long time no one sat across from me and only one, generally quiet, person to the side. Then a cube reshuffle happened.

        I come in early for some quiet time and to plan out the day. Cubes were reassigned so I now have 2 loud people across from me, one of them comes in early too. To further disable any concentration, this person regularly leads a conference call when he comes in. Now, how likely is it that a person could focus with that going on 4 feet away? Not exactly.

        A successful, smart business would realize theres a middle ground here, that some work from home is good and desirable. Yahoo is doing two things -
        1. A layoff without calling it a layoff.
        2. Undermining employees and will bring in a boat load of contract, mostly H1B / L1, employees to weaken any bargaining power employees have for raises, flexibility, compensation. I know this because I have lived it at my large blue employer.

        lastly: Actively resist in any manner the current "reform" of H1B etc. Tech companies are using its loop holes to bring in more supply of compliant foreign workers. They arent bring in the best and brightest as the program is designed to do, they are just increasing supply to weaken US workers bargaining power. Guess what, its working great for them!

    • Re: At your desk! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by madprof (4723)

      Remote workers are not as useful for close knit development teams as ones in the office. Sometimes you need to speak face to face. All else being equal, of course.

      • Re: At your desk! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Kjella (173770) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @01:31PM (#42990011) Homepage

        A lot of people are not suitable for remote employment, and a lot of people just aren't capable of involving off-site people. But if you've done it a while, hopefully you've weeded out those who couldn't and shouldn't and are left with good people you wouldn't otherwise have on staff. Doing anything like this without a grandfather clause sounds like chasing away a lot of good people that you've worked hard to find for almost no reason at all. But then I've never had any major issue with corporate suicides, unlike people they don't have any inherent reason to exist.

      • Re: At your desk! (Score:5, Interesting)

        by XopherMV (575514) * on Saturday February 23, 2013 @01:36PM (#42990061) Journal
        It's far easier to concentrate and maintain that concentration when you don't have people constantly coming up to your desk and interrupting you. Since it's easier to concentrate, it's also easier to get into "the zone" and stay in "the zone" for a longer period of time. Further, since you don't commute, people who work from home also tend to work longer hours. So, you do more productive work at home for longer periods of time. I'd say people working from home are more useful for close-knit development teams than ones in the office.
        • by rwyoder (759998)

          It's far easier to concentrate and maintain that concentration when you don't have people constantly coming up to your desk and interrupting you. Since it's easier to concentrate, it's also easier to get into "the zone" and stay in "the zone" for a longer period of time. Further, since you don't commute, people who work from home also tend to work longer hours. So, you do more productive work at home for longer periods of time. I'd say people working from home are more useful for close-knit development teams than ones in the office.

          All true, and more; I opted to start working from home to avoid morons in adjacent cubicles who thought it was appropriate to do things like: 1. Hold impromptu meetings in the adjacent aisle with everyone talking as loudly as possible, 2. Make personal phone calls with the phone on *speaker*. And then they would get PO'd at *me* for objecting.

          And in addition, at home I have use of my own double-width rack of networking gear where I can replicate issues, and test proposed changes. Every instance I've see

      • Great, and when I want to work for a creepy company that substitutes productivity and earned worker loyalty for forced team building and "face to face" meetings, I'll make that change. Right now though, I want to work for a company that cares about happy and productive employees. Missing a 30-45 minute commute each way, and letting employees choose what is the most productive environment for themselves is a net benefit. Who wants to work for a company that confuses management with out of touch mandates?
      • Re: At your desk! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by GreyWolf3000 (468618) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @03:59PM (#42990973) Journal

        I hear this fallacy a lot.

        When I work from home, I'm still pairing up with another developer over skype/tmux, and I am super productive doing it.

        It's 2012, there's no reason remote working should incur a penalty in collaboration.

      • by tlambert (566799) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @04:19PM (#42991101)

        When I worked at Google, there were a lot of remote workers, since teams were put together for specific purposes, and the geographic locations varied widely between the best people for the task at hand. This worked as well, in 99% of the cases, as having the person locally in the office. But Google has a pretty big, pretty sophisticated teleconferencing infrastructure which perhaps Yahoo does not have/can not currently afford to buy.

        It's also frequently very difficult to communicate corporate culture remotely; for this reason, when someone was hired permanently into a position in the team, even from another team already within Google, they were expected to spend several months with their coworkers in Mountainview. If the office containing most of the on-site team had been in Germany, they would have been expected there instead.

        I imagine that it would be amazingly difficult to make a cultural shift in a company with remote workers, even if you imposed the same restrictions in terms of having them work locally, and if, as Marissa seems to be trying to do, you do it by throwing a big switch, that's a rather large up front cost, unless you own Marriott Suites or a similar housing complex.

        That said, Marissa is apparently trying to turn Yahoo into a mini-Google. I don't know how this will work out for them, but it probably can't be worse than if they'd taken the purchase offer from Microsoft and become a mini-Microsoft.

        My gut feeling is that this isn't going to be terrifically successful; I knew a lot of the people who were initially involved in Yahoo. I also know that a lot of managers dislike managing remotely on general principles; for those managers, the people "allowed" to work remotely were the "rock stars": people who were allowed to be remote not because the managers were OK with it, but because they would otherwise lose the talent. They've already had something of a brain-drain: I know several of the Yahoo top technical people already jumped to Facebook, Google, and other companies, some of them years ago, when it looked like Yahoo was starting to go down hill.

        It really remains to be seen what, other than a mini-Google, Marissa is trying to build at Yahoo, but it should be interesting to watch.

      • In this day and age there is simply no reason. I work on a small team right now and the guy I do the most work with is remote all the time. Between IM, email, phone calls and video chat there is no drop off between him and anyone else I work with. Office time != face time. I agree that face time can be very important, but there are just too many tools available these days for physical location to matter.

    • by gweihir (88907) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @01:57PM (#42990189)

      You have to give these managers more credit: They are really trying to do the best they can: Having no skills themselves, the only reasonable metric is time spent at work! And Mayer reputedly excels at this. If a remote employee stares out the window, they are definitely not at work in that moment, while a non-remote employee doing the same thing is! So, from their perspective they are clearly boosting productivity.

      Just to make sure nobody misunderstands me:
      - Time is an unsuitable productivity metric for knowledge workers.
      - Working long hours is well known to massively decrease productivity due to significant increases in mistakes and wrong decisions.
      - The Dunning-Kruger effect is a lot more pronounced in "leadership" positions as these people often manage to effectively discourage honest feedback.

      • Re:At you desk! (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @02:34PM (#42990403)

        As a manager, the only way to really know if you are really utilizing your people is when they start failing. Otherwise, they might have more capacity.

        If you have a set amount of work to do, then you can measure who is finishing the work with quality and efficiency but even those measures are ineffective because not all work is the same. So if it is repetitive work you can rotate it around and maybe catch the total gold brickers.

        If you work with them on a daily basis and gather status from them - you can get some indication for who is doing a lot of work and who is not doing a lot of work. When we interviewed people said they had worked on 2-3 projects. At our company, on our team we were working 10-15 projects per person upper (management cut corners and missed a lot of SAP blueprinting) and we were graded on "all done or fail" basis.

        Now... two things did happen.

        1) After two years upper management laid almost everyone off (~80%) and brought in Infosys. The nasty bit... after two years of 70 hour weeks- we found out this had been in Legal for two years. I.e. they planned to use us up like batteries from the start and then toss us.

        2) Of the 20% of the people retained. Over half are gone. The SAP project is stalled until Infosys comes up to speed. And the surprise was this: Infosys didn't have enough trained resources. I hear a lot of $200 an hour contractors have been brought in... sort of negating the savings of laying everyone off. I expect it will resume moving again in the summer.

        So this is off topic from the remote worker (oh btw, they DID lay off every single remote employee while staffing up a bunch of people in india so watch out for being a remote employee because of the extra risk).

        This is the third major company that has done this that I'm aware of so my advice is if your company is going to SAP and they bring in Infosys- there is a very high risk that the plan is to lay you off right after all the hard work unless you are on enterprise architecture.

        The good news is- most of the people who god laid off found work in under 90 days working 45 hours a week. Moral: They should have left when management first called for them to work 70 hours unless they had been offered huge (and I'm talking a years salary) bonuses.

      • Re:At you desk! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Belial6 (794905) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @03:13PM (#42990669)

        Working long hours is well known to massively decrease productivity due to significant increases in mistakes and wrong decisions.

        This generally get compounded by the fact that "Working hours is ill defined." From the company point of view and the legally, the number of hours worked is from the time you get to work, to the time you leave work. The companies point of view nor the law change the fact that from the employees point of view and from a biological point of view, work begins when you start getting ready for work at home until you get back home in the evening. That and a lunch hour is not enough time to convert the time into non-work time. Thus, the standard work day for an employee with an hour commute is ~12 hours to start.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Typical feminine perspective: maximizing social drama (or what most call 'communication' nowadays) matters more than results. I'm sure she'll also make sure everyone's dressed like fashion models too, because dresscode is more important than results.

    • Re:At you desk! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Stiletto (12066) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @04:54PM (#42991299)

      +5 Insightful for this? Really? OK, I get it, Slashdotters are too cool for face to face conversations. If it gets you out of the "programmer zone" it's bad. Got it.

      Here's my anecdote:

      The best thing my current company did for the (software) product was to get people back in the office, working together. Before, it was a mix of people offsite, in other states, in other countries. Even inside the company, people who were supposed to be working together had cubicles all over the office, on different floors and different buildings. The result? Nobody talked to each other, requirements were mis-interpreted, and every little thing had to be documented because nobody was in the room when changes were made. Decisions (code and business) that could have been made over a 15 minute conversation instead took days of E-mail chains. Engineers, marketing people, managers, etc. locked themselves in their private little worlds and sent status reports at each other, and lo and behold, nothing was getting done.

      After a great deal of convincing, we ended that shit. Every significant contributor to the project (including developers, QA, project management, architecture, art, marketing, etc.) not only needs to be in the office, but they work in the same "war room". No cube walls to hide behind, no doors to lock, no screaming kids on conference calls. If there's a question about something, the person who knows is less than 20 meters away. If you need a quick over-the-shoulder code review, it's done. What is Marketing planning on calling this feature? Answered. Status reports became unnecessary, endless meetings and conference calls started going away. No more of this, "Jim is only going to be in town for three days, so we need to cram all the meetings in while he's here!" The little petty morale-killing stuff like "Why does he get to live in Utah on a California salary, while I have to pay rent in Mountain View?" went away. I can't begin to emphasize the difference this made in terms of productivity and collaboration, and morale.

      Don't underestimate the power of simply getting everyone in the same room talking. Companies that do it will have an edge over companies that don't.

      • Re:At you desk! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by dwpro (520418) <dwpro777.yahoo@com> on Saturday February 23, 2013 @11:04PM (#42993263)

        It's not that folks are "too cool". It's incredibly inefficient to break concentration on complex tasks for tedium that could be more appropriately handled in a scheduled meeting or even a simple email. The interrupter may get what they need, but it's at the cost of the company generally. I can't tell you how frustrating it is to be 4 threads deep debugging an issue only to have a project manager drop in to get simple information they could easily have requested by email.

        What's worse, I think many people understand how badly interruptions sets back our work. However, they only care about their own priorities/deadlines and believe that whatever they are working on is more important. Which, in some cases it might be, but many times it's not in my experience.

        I agree vehemently on the value of and face time and communication, but I cannot fathom how anyone attempting to focus on a challenging task could function in your described environment. I would expect slower development and more errors due to interruption. I'm guessing, since it sounds like it was your idea at your company, you're a little more attuned to the positive aspects of the decision.

  • bullet in the head (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Yonder Way (603108) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @12:38PM (#42989657)

    After years of twitching on the gurney, Mayer is finally putting a bullet in Yahoo's head.

    • by lightknight (213164) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @12:45PM (#42989693) Homepage

      The meetings will continue until something gets done around here.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 23, 2013 @04:25PM (#42991145)

        I was once dragged on to a "tiger team" to solve an emergency problem that had sprung up.

        They called us in for a kick-off meeting at 8am, and during the meeting they decided that we would have a 9am meeting every day to determine our progress.

        The kickoff meeting ran until 9am, at which point the boss transitioned the kick-off meeting into the daily status meeting, and when we reported that we had not made any progress (because we were still in the kick-off meeting), berated us for our lack of progress.

    • by Dr. Tom (23206)

      R.I.P.

    • by Huntr (951770) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @12:52PM (#42989735)

      You know, I want to say it's for the best, due to the twitching on the gurney factor, like you say. But, really, it's not. We consumers need good competition to get the best out of these companies and a big player like Yahoo finally biting the dust we not be good for us

      I suppose an alternative view is that Yahoo has been wallowing around for so long that the competition has not been there anyway. That might be true...

  • by Frosty Piss (770223) * on Saturday February 23, 2013 @01:02PM (#42989791)

    There are some web pages - like the hords of image blogs at Tumblr - that might do fine with this "never ending page scroll" shit, but Yahoo's home page is not one of them, it's just extremely annoying.

    Yahoo was at one time a great hotbed of interesting web development technology, but now it's just another shithole like HP than needs to merg with someone who actually has a product and vision, and go the fuck away.

    The whole "portal" concept is dead.

    • by mspohr (589790)

      I'm not sure that the "portal" concept is dead.
      I have an iGoogle portal page that I have open all of the time and I use it many times a day to check news, weather, RSS feeds, webcams to my local ski areas, stock prices, etc. It really is very useful to me.
      Now, as you probably know, Google has declared iGoogle to be dead meat and will discontinue the service later this year. I will then probably have to create something similar on my own or find another service. I have looked at the new Yahoo home page and

  • by j-stroy (640921) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @01:04PM (#42989809)
    First and probably primarily is security holes from supporting remote employees. Yahoo's email seems to have been broadly hacked, so much spam from address books of yahoo addresses. As a CEO, decisive action is made when no one else will speak of the elephant in the room, or assumptions need to be broken to progress.

    Second, I have done lots of team work as well as remote work.. the physical interface of people is important for synergy. The problems I have solved by simply walking around the workplace and networking people who sit within 10m of each other are beyond counting.

    Thirdly, Yahoo must really be in trouble and this is a sincere attempt to save it. Perhaps time to pay for their premium service.. They could use the cash, and i could use downloading my old emails.

    The revenge effect from this decision could be nasty tho.. Security could get worse since some won't go and skills won't get transferred. People who worked remotely may not integrate well and may carry resentment into the workplace and the attempt to save it just might work just enough to drag the brand even lower. Good luck Yahoo! I for one am rooting for you.
    • by gweihir (88907)

      The security angle is BS, at least for competent employees and system administration. Just use VPN and dedicated work-laptops. Of course what I have seen from Yahoo, is abysmally bad in that area. They may really have security problems in an area where these have been solved a long time ago.

    • by Cyrano de Maniac (60961) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @01:59PM (#42990199)

      First and probably primarily is security holes from supporting remote employees.

      This is definitely not the case, for one safe-to-assume reason and one from Mayer's memo itself.

      The safe-to-assume reason is that Yahoo will certainly continue providing remote access to employees for working from home during off-hours, while travelling on company business, and for employees who are on-call. If you have to provide remote access for even one employee some of the time you have the same set of security considerations as if you provide remote access for all employees all of the time.

      And Mayer's memo makes reference to employees exercising good judgement about waiting at home for the cable guy situations. This implies that it is recognized there will always be one-off situations where an employee needs to work from home for a particular day, even if they are not allowed to do so as their standard day-to-day situation. So once again, if you provide remote access for even one, you have all the same security considerations as if you allowed every employee to work from home all the time.

      I personally think this is just as some other posters have said -- it's a stealth layoff to avoid paying severance by getting people to quit on their own, and the decision will gradually be reversed (or the policy just not enforced) once the desired reductions have been accomplished.

      ObSnark: When did Carly change her name to Marissa?

    • by XopherMV (575514) *

      Second, I have done lots of team work as well as remote work.. the physical interface of people is important for synergy. The problems I have solved by simply walking around the workplace and networking people who sit within 10m of each other are beyond counting.

      Ok, people were ALREADY in the office and they weren't communicating? So, what's the problem with letting them telecommute again?

  • by Bearhouse (1034238) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @01:04PM (#42989813)

    So, regardless of the success or failure of their business model, (hint: it's a failure), senior management has decided that swimming against the tide will mysteriously lead to better customer service and/or lower costs?

    I assume that this move has more to do with reducing variable cost, (payroll), by encouraging people to resign, than actually implementing a well thought-out strategic or tactical innovation. This because if everyone concerned actually turns up to the office, instead of quitting, then costs must inevitably rise. Of course, productivity gains will outpace costs, right? Wrong.

    If management cannot manage remote workers today, with clear objectives supported by good processes and infrastructure, what makes you think they will be able to do it with everyone in-house?

    • by PPH (736903)

      That new Yahoo homepage will look good as "The Boss is Coming" tab when management patrols cubicle-space.

  • by Ben4jammin (1233084) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @01:10PM (#42989843)
    Can't believe none of the Yahoo leadership has seen this:
    http://dilbert.com/strips/comic/1995-09-15/ [dilbert.com]
    • by gweihir (88907) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @01:36PM (#42990059)

      The hallmark of truly bad management is making wrong decision in the face of well known facts that make it obvious the decisions are wrong. This is what many incompetents in high positions mistake for "leadership". It comes with vast overestimation of their own skills (which are often pitiful), meaningless productivity metrics (time being the most popular, as it is easy for these "high performers" to clock more of it, which does make them "long stayers", but does routinely _decrease_ their performance, such as it is), an ignorance of the well established basics of good management. The problem is of course that managers are hired by managers and the atrociously bad practices are just perpetuated.

  • Shortsighted much? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TigerPlish (174064) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @01:16PM (#42989895)

    This is a move I expect out of a non-tech C-level. Like, I don't know, healthcare. "Yes, all employees must be chained to their desks by 0830 because otherwise we can't trust that work is being done."

    Stupid, 1950's typewriter-and-adding-machine mentality. "Because that's how it's always been done."

    The two most productive and profitable places I've been to not only allow telecommute -- they encourage it, and not for money. Their numbers tell them people do more work of better quality when free to work wherever.

  • But I agree with this. This is the first time that I think that Mayer may actually be getting it in that the US workforce has gotten lazy.Yes, this is a broad stroke of the brush, but look at any large project in just about any large corporation and you'll see costs and overruns out of control. I think this is just the first step of her trying to say enough is enough, you people are well compensated, quit acting like spoiled brats thinking you are all so special and get the shit done. This goes for every se
    • by gweihir (88907)

      They only right way to deal with this is on an individual basis. If you cannot handle that, it is better to not implement this. There will be quite a few able and willing people that are only at Yahoo because of the remote work policy. All of those can easily leave and many will now, also because of the implied insult to their professional ethics.

    • by Ryanrule (1657199) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @09:19PM (#42992809)

      Guess why the costs and overruns are out of control. Because the boomer and genx management has committed more and more to paying h1-bs 35k a year while charging $200/hour for their work.

  • by Lumpy (12016) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @01:21PM (#42989933) Homepage

    You dont attract the top people to your company by acting like a micromanaging jerk... This lady is proof that it's not your skills but who you know to become CEO.

  • by gweihir (88907)

    This will just mean those bright and able will look for other employment, while those not so good will stay. And this will not only affect remote workers, as such a step is an insult to their employees and will lower morale significantly. Truly incompetent "leadership" at work, this is a beginner's mistake.

  • by gpmanrpi (548447) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @02:00PM (#42990207)
    This is probably a management oversight problem. We will see what becomes of it. It is not Yahoo!'s biggest problem. The problem with Yahoo! is that it doesn't have a point. I think many of us remember when it was a fairly useful directory of websites, and then transformed into a "web portal." I think that still translates to shitty web based AOL clone thing. Now, it seems like there are just a lot of other sites that do each individual thing better. Whether it is Google for search, Gmail for e-mail, tons of news aggregators for news, Pandora/Spotify/Grooveshark for Music, Netflix/Hulu/Youtube for movies and video, etc. Is the new home page better than the old one? I think so. It is much clearer with less cruft. Still at the end of the day if I am a web user why would I want to use Yahoo! for internet dating, when I can use match.com, pof, etc. Yahoo! brand itself doesn't convey anything anymore. It carries no gravitas, it is not associated with quality, speed, clarity, innovation, etc. To be honest, I associate it with spam and compromised e-mail addresses.
    If they still want to be a "web portal" they need to really figure out a compelling reason for a web portal. Why should I come to Yahoo.com? What does a web portal do for me that google can't do just as easily? When they answer that question honestly, then they can figure out a way to move forward. Otherwise, they are a prisoner to their past that is not likely to return.
    Ms. Mayer seems to see some of the problems. I guess the problem is whether the boat has hit the iceberg or if there is still time to turn?
  • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @02:19PM (#42990333)

    The bad did not do as much work as the local workers and would disappear for 15 minutes at a time. What were they doing? Going for a walk? Who knows.

    The good had higher productivity than the local workers.
    Never saw much success with teams with too many remote workers.
    I'm sure it works great for brilliant people but for normal people, it was difficult to have adhoc meetings or expedite things.

    Of course this was for working conditions with too much work. It was hard to do it locally (70 hour weeks). Almost impossible to do it remotely.

  • by SwashbucklingCowboy (727629) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @02:27PM (#42990367)

    She wants them to quit so she doesn't have to pay unemployment despite the fact that the company is the one changing the rules.

  • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @02:36PM (#42990423)

    If you resign- no unemployment benefits.

  • by TwineLogic (1679802) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @03:40PM (#42990843)
    When a person resigns, they are not eligible for unemployment insurance. What Yahoo is proposing is a restructuring of their work-force, a "lay-off." Unless they are offering a superior severance package, the ethical thing to do is lay these employees off, so they can collect the unemployment insurance they deserve.

    None of them are resigning by choice, and if the alternative is that they will be fired for cause, Yahoo should be deeply ashamed of their new CEO.
  • by Stiletto (12066) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @04:34PM (#42991195)

    Careful what you wish for, Slashdotters, if your job can be done from home it can be done from India.

  • by CohibaVancouver (864662) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @05:11PM (#42991381)
    I'll bet you my US Robotics modem this is simply about layoffs. Laying off people is expensive - However, if they quit, well that's much cheaper.

    "You have to come into the office now."
    "Come into the office? No way. I quit."
  • by Zenin (266666) on Sunday February 24, 2013 @05:17AM (#42994339) Homepage

    I used to be a huge advocate of telecommuting and did it myself for the better part of a decade.

    For years now I've been seeing a growing wave of Agile methodology, particularly Scrum, being adopted. Very much for the better. And while it's technically possible to use these methods with remote team members, it's far from ideal.

    No matter how much technology you throw at the problem (IM, video, holograms), the reality is you throw away practically all the possible gains when team members are remote. Hell, just having the team spread out farther then a couple cubes away is incredibly detrimental. And it isn't about the ease of distracting your co-worker all the time (which anyone would agree is bad). No, it's about the ease of collaborating with your team member.

    I'm seeing a significant re-thinking of the use of out-sourcing/off-shoring, specifically because a good Scrum team of half a dozen people in house can drastically outperform any number of off-shore contractors. The economics make more sense to keep the work in house. But they have to be a team, and they have to be co-located, period. Anything else and you just don't get remotely close to the same performance...which means there's no real benifit of an in house group, which means the most sensible choice is to out-source it to India.

    --

    If you're a Rambo-style rock star who is loath to work with anyone else, most especially face to face, your days are numbered. Simply because anyone with just half your skill can easily out perform you in every way if they are part of a solid Agile team and you're still a lone wolf. I'm not comparing you against an entire team, I'm comparing just you against just one member of a good team.

    In other words, 6 lone wolf rock stars will get destroyed by 6 average, typical workers who work together as a team. And the team members will do it without working 15 hour days.

The Universe is populated by stable things. -- Richard Dawkins

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