Working Parents Round-up: Yahoo’s CEO is wrong

working parents round up blog postsAs a working parent, I am pretty sure you might have noticed the storm a brewing because Marissa Mayer, Yahoo’s CEO, had a recent memo on home working leaked; she has banned her employees from doing it. She said:

“To become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side. That is why it is critical that we are present in our offices.”


May I be blunt now…

Utter crap.

Sorry; I know, that’s a bit forthright, and should I really be saying that in a Britmums Round-up. But I believe it rather strongly. It’s not going to help working parents when edicts from large, and ultimately respected, companies hit the internet with such force. Home working is critical to the flexibility that working parents need. Its not home working that’s the issue, its the difficulties of working with your children still at home WHILE you are doing it. It’s the cost of childcare, so that does happen, that should be addressed. Not flexible working per se.

Granted, there are some roles where it is harder than others, and some where its not possible at all, particularly within the media. It can’t be done 100% of your working time for some either I know, but allowing flexible working on a case by case basis isn’t going to cause the fabric of the office to collapse around Yahoo’s ears, is it? Sure a technology company like Yahoo should be leading the charge on using technology to enable remote working rather than dismissing it out of hand?

I have worked from home for a lot for my career, and I haven’t done too badly thank you very much. I worked for 8 years in a job entirely home-based. Perhaps Marissa hasn’t heard of collaborative “remote” working?

I used it rather effectively as an analyst. Technology, and social media can be a pain and a distraction sometimes, but for remote working, Skype, Webinars, and even Facebook are a marvel at connecting you with your fellow workers.

Perhaps what Marissa should be doing is investing in a bit of education to make remote collaboration more effective in her offices rather than banning it outright? Even better, maybe she can help to provide reduced cost childcare to enable those with children not have to manage with a baby on one knee and a laptop on the other?

working from home


Muddling Along Mummy was lucky enough this month to meet with Elizabeth Truss, the Education Secretary, to discuss childcare; so perhaps that’s a good start here in the UK….actually talking to mothers. Cartoon Kate rather eloquently put the point across regarding the proposed changes to childcare arrangements that Truss announced recently. Do check out her cartoon blog for a few more laughs too.

Plummy Mummy seems to feel my pain as well regarding remote working; and agrees with the childcare take. Marissa’s comments follow an equally interesting announcement that after her child, she wouldn’t take her full 12 weeks (US of course) maternity leave; which caused another internet maelstrom; some people coming out in sympathy, such as Offbeat Familes, a US working mum, and others rather wondering why she had the child in the first place if she was going to drop her/him and get back to work as soon as possible…

Girl Lost in the City makes a good point that “working from home” doesn’t have a good reputation, its pretty much historically been the office equivalent of “#playinghooky,” but it doesn’t have to be that way. I worked 100% from home for a very long time, I was great at my job, earned a good wage, and didn’t get distracted by those annoying conversations with my colleagues about how utter crap Liverpool Football Club are doing at the moment…

Dissing home working doesn’t help other working parents with the struggle to find that flexible work either; with Dorky Mum starting on that journey very recently – working from home shouldn’t be an option only for those mad enough to run their own business like me, it should be an option for more in office jobs too, at least for some of the week.

Working Mum guilt hits us all, and can be alleviated with some flexibility in our roles; home working helps with this as we can, in theory, attempt to juggle slightly more effectively without a commute. Though despite this, we often feel guilty about actually paying for childcare when we are at home, as Single Slummy Mummy put so eloquently when she was a guest on the KiddyCharts blog a few weeks ago. Being a working parent needs a plan too, and Miss Eco Glam seems to have one this month, giving us all some sensible tips on balancing work and family!

Which is more than can be said for me; though I must be doing something right judging by my daughters’s first attempt at a book over on my Stickers, Stars and Smiles blog. And not a bribe in sight for writing this; she did it herself, apparently, she wants to be an author/illustrator! We are actually asking over on KiddyCharts if you bribe your kids in fact – an anonymous survey, be great if you can join in too.

What do you think to the Yahoo CEO’s comments? Do you agree? What is your take on home working?

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About Helen Neale

Helen is the editor of the working parents round up, a freelance writer and owner of personalised children's chart business, KiddyCharts. She was a business analyst, and then a tweed-skirted school librarian as she tried to find work that fitted in with the demands of motherhood. Mummy's Little Stars is where you will find her sometimes funny musings about life as a working parent, and mum to some over exuberant small people. She has only been blogging since January 2012, so go gentle with her; she might break. You can find Helen on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn; where she probably hangs out a bit too much.

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3 Responses to Working Parents Round-up: Yahoo’s CEO is wrong

  1. Newborn Baby Photographer 12 March 2013 at 20:33 #

    I couldn’t agree more. As a newborn baby photographer I meet lots of different mums from all walks of life and professions. One thing everyone (or most at least) has in common is the worry about how they are going to manage when they return to work. A little bit of flexibility from companies in allowing people to work from home makes it possible for women to continue with their career. As a person and mum who regularly works from home I know I work far harder from home than I do with the distractions of an office environment.

    • Helen Neale 18 March 2013 at 13:33 #

      Well said – I find I work harder when I am at home too, and have don for the last 10 years or more I have been doing it. Yahoo’s CEO definitely needs to be more open minded about things at the very least!

  2. Mamacook 17 April 2013 at 05:52 #

    From what I hear at Yahoo, the practice was being abused. From the sounds of it, they needed to have a clamp down.

    Personally I disagree with banning working from home, partly because I know I can be organised and effective when I do it but I also know (mostly from watching my husband) that I’m not the same as everyone else in this.

    I do disagree though with working from home where you are also looking after children at the same time full time unless you are making that clear to your work place and only claiming the hours you are physically engaged in work for them. Otherwise neither your work nor your children get the attention they deserve.