Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo, sent out a memo Friday saying that all Yahoo employees are now required to physically come in to Yahoo headquarters each and every day for work. If employees were unable or unwilling to do so, Mayer said, they could look for employment elsewhere.
The decision was sparked, in part, to increase productivity. “Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home,” the memo said. “We need to be one Yahoo and that starts with physically being together.”
Though Mayer’s view might seem outdated to the millennial, stay-at-home generation, and might even seem downright harsh to Yahoo employees working from remote locations, the decision is ultimately a good one. Instituting a mandatory attendance policy can help cut down on wasted time, inefficient workdays and superfluous employee salaries. Mayer’s decision is a necessary one — one that required courage to make.
The decision to mandate employee attendance has been understandably controversial. Employees who previously had agreements to work from home are now required to drastically change their lifestyles and work habits. Many employees do not live close to Yahoo headquarters and, as a result, have to suffer through lengthy commutes or seek new living situations. Many Yahoo employees are unhappy with the decision and even critics have expressed doubt about whether such a move has any positive effect on productivity.
“Putting employees back into a box is not good for Yahoo,” Huffington Post columnist Lisa Belkin wrote. “It is not good for workers. And it is very bad business.”
Despite the fact that employees might be uncomfortable with the decision, Mayer’s plan is actually extremely strategic. Yahoo as a company has lately seen dwindling stock prices and has gone through four CEOs in the past five years; at only $20.73, its market share of 13.4 percent trails behind Google’s $790.77 and experts agree that the company is struggling.
Many cite Yahoo’s bloated infrastructure as a cause for concern, and Mayer is the first CEO to take the problem head on. “The bottom line is that the situation at Yahoo is a mess,” Macquarie Securities analyst Ben Schachter said before Mayer took office.
Mayer and her vision for a corporate makeover could be exactly what the Yahoo! needs. A former Google employee and Stanford graduate, Mayer has caused quite a media frenzy since the beginning of her reign as CEO of Yahoo. in July 2012, at 37-years-old, she is the youngest female CEO to ever lead a Fortune 500 company and the only one to accept the role while six months pregnant.
Yet Mayer’s pregnancy did little to slow her ambitions at Yahoo. Within her first few months at the company, she spearheaded the designing of a brand new Yahoo homepage and made significant mobile acquisitions to help increase Yahoo’s reach as a global market. Using her experience at Google as a benchmark, Mayer has worked to build a healthy company culture at Yahoo and, in her own words, “make the world’s daily habits inspiring and entertaining.”
Brand-building aside, requiring employees to come in to work every day has financial logic. Like companies such as Google and Facebook, Yahoo prioritizes employee satisfaction and provides perks including free food, free gadgets and relaxation time, but allowing employees to work from home is uncommon at any of the other big technology companies. In addition, mandating employee attendance cuts down on inefficient use of resources and emphasizes employee productivity.
Mayer’s decision might have indirect benefits as well. By implementing a hard-and-fast rule, Mayer could be anticipating that some Yahoo employees will be unable to accommodate the change and decide to quit, which might help the company in the long run by cutting down on salary costs while retaining those in line with Mayer’s vision.
Ultimately, the decision to require all Yahoo employees to come to work every day is a wise one. Forbes journalist Greg Satell wrote, “Mayer made a tough call … The role of a CEO is not to try to please everyone, but to lead. That means making decisions that people aren’t going to like, dealing with the consequences and moving forward.”
If nothing else, Mayer has shown that she is capable of making tough decisions, decisions that might help her employees in the long run building a solid company.
By making such a controversial decision so early in her reign as CEO, Mayer has proven that she is one to watch.
Payal Mukerji is a junior majoring in business administration. Her column “Risky Business” runs Tuesdays.