Mayer’s Move: Telecommuting Ban

In a surprising move, Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer has mandated a telecommuting ban for all employees.

WorkLife Balance Girl SkippyAs a female professional, I am pretty shocked by this turn of events. Mayer has been an icon for millions of working women who are constantly striving to strike the right balance between their responsibilities in the home and at the office. In fact, there have been numerous articles written about Mayer’s strategy to avoid employee burnout, such as letting employees like ” soccer mom Katie ” leave early on certain days to attend her kids’ soccer games, and then jump back online after the kids are in bed to continue the day’s work. By the looks of this decision, perhaps Mayer has changed her tune.

The end to telecommuting? I doubt it.

While this ban is sure to send some shockwaves through the employment industry, I don’t believe we’ll see many other companies following suit. Mayer’s decision says more about the type of company (and culture) she is planning to rebuild, and less about the state of telecommuting and flexible work schedules as a whole. In supporting this ban, Mayer is sure to drive many of Yahoo!’s current employees out the door – and perhaps this is part of her master plan.

As technology continues to advance, our world is becoming smaller and smaller. Between conferencing software and document-sharing services, the ability to work – and perform well – as a remote team member is easier than ever before. Assuming an employee’s productivity and work output isn’t negatively impacted by a virtual office, offering a more flexible work schedule to a portion of the company is a great way to attract and retain talent, and improve morale.

Telecommuting gives employees the opportunity to perform at their best and maintain a better work-life balance. With the economy still tight, employees are continually asked to produce more with fewer resources. Stress levels remain high. The ability to work from home or maintain a more flexible work schedule is one way to counteract some of this added stress.

Is telecommuting important to you?

If it’s important, look for companies that boast their telecommuting and other flexible work options. You can often find these companies on the top lists for single parents, working moms, or the best companies for work-life balance. If you’re unsure what a company offers, carefully read through their employment pages online and look for employee reviews on sites like Glassdoor and Vault.

When negotiating your compensation package, include these types of intangible benefits in your discussion, and get the final agreement in writing. Be specific with things such as the number of days you’d like to work from home, or what a “flexible work schedule” entails.

Should your current employer create a ban similar to the one enforced at Yahoo!, review your employment contract carefully. If a telecommuting or flexible work option was included in your contract, contact an employment lawyer to know what courses of action are possible.

If telecommuting is no longer on the table, speak with your manager or an HR representative to find out if other work flexibility options are still available. For instance, you may not be able to work from home every day, but you might be able to come in early and leave early on certain days to pick up your children from daycare or watch your child’s soccer game.