From One CEO Mom to Another

Amanda Steinberg - Marissa Mayer

Some of Yahoo!’s employees are furious their new CEO Marissa Mayer just banned working from home

The idea that Mayer is denying some employees the convenience of telecommuting—when she apparently built a nursery in her office to accommodate her own new-mom status—doesn’t help.

But this backlash isn’t just about working parents. It’s about flexibility—from both sides.

Marissa, let’s think strategically, here, one Internet mom-CEO to another. 

You’re trying  to bring culture and cohesiveness back to a fractured, low-morale Internet giant. When you’re a company of 11,000 employees, you can’t regenerate morale with a diffuse workforce. I get it.

But let’s remember: office culture was formed in an era where men went to work and wives stayed home. Few of us have anyone at home, and sometimes home really needs us. When the fury subsides, and it will, consider adding these elements to your policy.

  • Let employees leave the office by 5 PM or (gasp) 4 PM, twice a week, with the caveat that they’ll complete their work later in the evening. A multitude of productivity studies support the idea of giving workers time to breathe.

    Besides, you won’t be able to promote many leaders-who-are-also-mothers if you insist on facetime until 7 PM.

  • Allow for school drop-off times. I know a few women who have to hire help to transport kids to school because they (and their spouses) have to be at their desks by 8 AM or 9 AM. Change that.

  • Permit employees to attend doctors’ appointments and special holiday school events—without penalty, and within reason.

  • Allow parents to work from home when kids are sick. Sick loved ones wreak havoc on our working schedules and having flexibility keeps everyone productive.

  • Extend the same policy to anyone with primary care-taking responsibility for others (e.g. aging parents).

    The “you’re hurting working moms” backlash allows employees hiding in the wings to turn you into the bad cop. Don’t let them. Keep kicking ass as a CEO-mom and do what you have to do to make Yahoo! great again.