I Thought Working From Home Was Progress

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By John Hubbuch

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer's decree banning telework prompted heated discussion about the plight of working mothers. Now the given reason for the ban was Ms. Mayers belief that making everybody come to the office somehow would increase efficiency. She was annoyed that some of Yahoo's competitors' parking lots had more cars in them than Yahoo's. I suspect that as is so often the case, the given explanation is just BS PR.                                                    

Ms. Mayer was probably just ego-tripping and wanted her name and picture on TV. She could just as easily required all employees to wear red on Fridays even if they worked from home. The queen's word was law, and thousands came to work. Or maybe Yahoo needs to downsize its work force and the telework ban will encourage some people to quit. Whatever.       

What I thought was interesting was the focus on women as mothers, and how telecommuting was so important in walking the difficult line between being a good employee and mom. I agree, but it always surprises me that the dads get left out of the discussion. Wouldn't it be good for Dad to stay home and bond with the kids also.   For the record  dads  don't mind caring for their children.              

Then there was the rationale of increasing  "Yahoo efficiency". Kind of an oxymoron. Let's see: we need everybody at work to decide a change in the font and color of our webpages. We need all hands on deck to do stories on man-eating sinkholes and a  hillbilly dying in a palmetto bug eating contest. Yes I have been vacationing in Florida.                                 

My experience was that you got less done at the office than home because at the office there were way more distractions including lots of office gossip and sports talk. The steady flow of e-mails I got from telecommuters at 4AM and midnight were evidence that somebody was working hard outside the office.

I thought invention and technology were to make life better for us. It probably was more efficient to have 12 year olds work 12 hour shifts in coal mines for a dollar a day, but innovation--and social legislation--improved the lot of all workers. Maybe Yahoo should ban maternity and paternity leave. It sure is inefficient to have mom or dad gone  from work to care for a newborn. The whim of Her Majesty Mayer  to ban telework is a step backward.

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