We really don’t need another thought leader, executive, or HR person writing about Yahoo’s ban on employees working at home. But here I go anyway …

China Gorman, in her blog, had a wonderful point, summed up in one wonderful short and succinct paragraph when there is a lot of research that shows flexible work/life balance really works:

“Except when it isn’t working. Except when management has lost line of sight into employee productivity. Except when the culture of work and communication has gotten inefficient and lost its discipline and rigor. Except when out of sight truly is out of mind.”

(Click here, for China’s full blog):

Of course, Best Buy has also ended its ROWE (Results Only Work Environment). This was a program that received accolades from the media when Best Buy was actually still considered a successful company. Oddly enough, Best Buy did quite well before it implemented ROWE. I think the same thing could be said for Yahoo!

I get that we should have work environments that are flexible. I’m a huge believer in Brandon Hall Group’s model of being able to recruit the best talent into our company, from ANYWHERE. We get that we need talent to continue pushing our company into new markets, industries and delivering results to our clients. Right now it works really, really well.  We’ve been both lucky and good in recruiting our team and I hope we can continue the culture that is currently in place.

But I also know I enjoy meeting our people face to face. And there is a lot to be said for face-to-face interactions. Ours at Brandon Hall Group have led to some of our best ideas and plans.

So from that context I leave you with these perspectives for those of you who think Marissa Mayer made a bad decision for banning working at home at Yahoo!:

  • Yahoo! is publicly traded and is responsible to its shareholders. I’ve been a shareholder of Yahoo! If I was still a shareholder, I’d be very pleased with this move.
  • Marissa Mayer is a data-driven executive who is responsible for the success of Yahoo! We don’t know what happened behind the scenes, but it’s not a far-fetched thought that someone came to her and said, “Look, these 500 employees we have working, 90% of them aren’t working, or even logging in until the afternoon.” Mayer’s reputation has always been around using data to make the right decisions.
  • Yahoo! is giving people months to adjust. People are not getting fired.
  • Doing this is a great way to have folks self-select and leave the company rather than having Yahoo! pay for underperformance and then pay unemployment on top of that.

I believe in work and life balance, being flexible and having a corporate culture where people are free to work from their homes, from the beach, from the coffee shop without coming into an office. Except when it doesn’t work. 😉

Mike Cooke

Chief Executive Officer of Brandon Hall Group Mike Cooke Prior to joining Brandon Hall Group, Mike Cooke was the Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of AC Growth. Mike held leadership and executive positions for the majority of his career, at which he was responsible for steering sales and marketing teams to drive results and profitability. His background includes more than 15 years of experience in sales, marketing, management, and operations in the research, consulting, software and technology industries. Mike has extensive experience in sales, marketing and management having worked for several early high-growth emerging businesses and has implemented technology systems to support various critical sales, finance, marketing and client service functions. He is especially skilled in organizing the sales and service strategy to fully support a company's growth strategy. The concept of growth was an absolute to Mike and a motivator in starting AC Growth, in order to help organizations achieve research driven results. Most recently, Mike was the VP and General Manager of Field Operations at Bersin & Associates, a global analyst and consulting services firm focused on all areas of enterprise learning, talent management and talent acquisition. Tasked with leading the company's global expansion, Mike led all sales operations worldwide. During Mike's tenure, the company has grown into a multi-national firm, conducting business in over 45 countries with over 4,500 multi-national organizations. Mike started his career at MicroVideo Learning Systems in 1992, eventually holding a senior management position and leading all corporate sales before founding Dynamic Minds. Mike was CEO and Co-Founder of Dynamic Minds, a custom developer of software programs, working with clients like Goldman Sachs, Prentice Hall, McGraw Hill and Merrill Lynch. Also, Mike worked for Oddcast, a leading provider of customer experience and marketing solutions, where he held a senior management position leading the company into new markets across various industries. Mike also serves on the Advisory Board for Carbon Solutions America, an independent sustainability consulting and carbon management firm that specializes in the design and implementation of greenhouse reduction and sustainability plans as well as managing the generation of carbon and renewal energy and energy efficiency credits. Mike attended University of Phoenix, studying Business Administration and Finance. He has also completed executive training at the Chicago Graduate School of Business in Chicago, IL.

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