When  Melissa Mayer had her newborn baby, she only took two weeks of maternity leave.  When she returned to work as Yahoo’s CEO, she had had a nursery prepared adjacent to her office, so she could have her baby close by.  Maureen Dowd takes it from there:

Almost two months after her son, Macallister, was born, Mayer irritated some women again when she bubbled at a Fortune event that “the baby’s been way easier than everyone made it out to be.”

“Putting ‘baby’ and ‘easy’ in the same sentence turns you into one of those mothers we don’t like very much,” Lisa Belkin chided in The Huffington Post.

Now Mayer has caused another fem-quake with a decision that has a special significance to working mothers. She has banned Yahoos, as her employees are known, from working at home (which some of us call “working” at home).

Catherine Capellaro is upset:

As a working mom and longtime teleworker, I’m offended at the suggestion that I and other parents who’ve found some semblance of balance in our work lives are less innovative or creative.

From the moment Mother Nature blessed me and my husband with twins, I’ve been innovating like crazy, trying to keep it all together.

That’s why it’s so galling to hear Mayer, whose salary the New York Times estimates will exceed $117 million in the next five years, scolding telecommuters for shirking their corporate duties. Mayer recently gave birth to her first child, and was at work back after two weeks; she had a nursery installed next to her office.

According to the Bureau of Labor statistics, one in four U.S. workers logs in some time from home. I understand that companies like Yahoo depend on some amount of face-to-face interaction to make that corporate magic happen.


Julio Ricardo Varela may be on to something:

Maybe the former ex-Yahoo employees who applauded your move are right. Maybe it is all about Yahoo employees who are just “milking” the company and taking advantage of a setup that actually can keep you away from actual work responsibilities, because in this day and age of smart phones, tablets, tweets, DMs, posts, texts, Skype calls, FaceTime, G+ Hangouts (sorry, my bad), GoToMeeting conferences, and GMail (oops, I mentioned that Google company again), it is so easy to stay disconnected from your office. These former Yahoo employees make it sound like Yahoo is full of Don Draper “Mad Men” characters slipping out at lunch for four martinis, never to be heard from again for the rest of the day.


Varela’s theory:

My cynicism can only conclude that this latest move is just forcing a decision on employees, having them decide whether to work in an office or leave Yahoo. I get it, you get many of your employees to leave so you can avoid the pain of massive layoffs. Nicely played, Melissa. That could indeed be the real motive behind all this, and if that is the case, good luck with that. Honesty is the better policy than your now disappearing telecommuting one.


Whatever Mayer’s motives might be, this is the twenty-first century and working from home is a modern-day reality.  A telecommuter’s productivity can easily be measured.  There are many occupations where face-time is unnecessary.  For so many families with children, telecommuting is more than a convenience.  It’s amazing that a company like Yahoo — young, modern, forward-leaning, cutting edge — would be so regressive and tone-deaf in dealing with their employees.

What do you think?  Send a comment below or email your comments to palblog@pediatricalliance.com.