Open Letter to Marissa Mayer

Dear Marissa Mayer,

Hey, it's me, Punchy. I've been meaning to write you a letter for a long time. I'm sorry it's so long overdue. I guess I just haven't been that motivated to write you since I'm home all day. Maybe if I was stuck in cubicle hell I'd be inspired to write to you.

Anyhoo, it doesn't matter. The important thing is that I am finally getting it done!

First, let me start with the accolades. Congrats on the new Yahoo gig. What a great opportunity for you to set such a fine example for young girls like my daughter, Adolpha. I'm sure young women around the country are looking up to you as a hero. BTW, how amazing was it that you were hired as the youngest CEO of a Fortune 500 company? Plus all this happened while you were pregnant! Has that ever even been done before? (I'm sure at least one guy on the board thought you were just fat or something and didn't realize you were cooking a bun, am I right?)

Look, I know you got a little flack about your maternity leave. I get it. I do. You could not have won that argument. Everyone had their opinion on just how much maternity leave you were going to need. At one end of the argument, you had board members and shareholders who wanted you to birth your baby in the office during a conference call, and at the other end you had earth mommies everywhere demanding that you take at least six months to properly bond with your baby, eat your placenta, and heal your aching hooha. There was no way to appease everyone. You had to do what was right for you.

I must admit though, I really thought that two weeks was a bold statement. When you first announced you'd only take two weeks maternity leave, I thought, That's so cute that Marissa thinks she's only going to need two weeks. It's her first baby and she's so used to everything going her way, but babies throw even the strongest people for loops. I hope she's ready to take off at least a month. But nope, you proved me wrong and you were back in the executive suite within two weeks, just as promised. Kudos to you (and the robotics team who built you)!

I didn't hear much about you again for a while, until last week when you dropped the bomb on all of your Yahoo employees that they must come in to work and toil in a cube all day.

Marissa, girl, what are you thinking??

Come on, you really took that whole "there's a new sheriff in town" thing way too far. Remember, when I said earlier that you're like a hero to women in the workforce everywhere? Yeah, I take that back. You're Gordon Gecko's hero.

I'm not going to get all scientific on you, but did you know there are tons of studies out there that say that people are actually a lot more productive from their home offices?

Take me, for example. I am writing this on a Sunday afternoon. I'm not wearing pants. Seriously. OK, I have pajama bottoms on, but they're so pajama-y that I wouldn't even wear them to Wal-Mart. I've been taking breaks from writing this so I can throw in a load of laundry and help my kids with their homework. I will most likely finish this piece tonight from the comfort of my bed once my kids are tucked in.

If you told me I had to drag my ass into the office to write this, it would never get done. Because I suck at the office. Truly. Ask anyone who has ever been my boss. I'm that office worker who thinks "collaboration" means hanging out in the break room all day re-hashing last night's episode of Survivor. (“Hey, did you guys see Phillip running around the island in his pink panties again? The Hubs was all, 'Where do you even buy pink men's underwear?' Hey, do you guys know? Because I think it would be funny to get him a pair for his birthday.”) I'm always watching the clock and/or staring out the window. I steal office supplies. I can't get enough Bic for Her pens! Corporate attire (even Casual Friday) sucks the life out of me and literally makes me livid. I spend a ridiculous amount of time and money on Amazon and Ebay just to fight the boredom and break up my day with mail deliveries.

Mmmmmm . . . free office supplies.

After working from home for the last 10 years, I can't even imagine how pissed off I would be to hear that now I've got to suit up and chain myself to a desk again.

Your workers must hate you, Marissa. If they didn't hate you when you put down the law with your 1987 Baby Boom-esque work ethic, then they'll definitely hate you when the nursery you are installing next door to your office is done. I know, I know. You're paying for the nursery out of your own pocket. Yeah, you kind of have to. Only golf course memberships and strip clubs can go on the CEO expense reports. I really doubt that this will be a new work-life balance option for all your employees. If you did allow your employees to bring their babies to work, you'd probably ask everyone to just keep them under their desks so they won't interfere with productivity.

OK, so what do I know? I'm just some dumb blogger. I'm not the CEO of anything. Let me see if I understand your new policy: everyone needs to haul their sad, tired asses into the Yahoo offices Monday to Friday and if they're not willing to do that, then they can find employment elsewhere. Hmm … I don't know. I would think that anyone who is any good will definitely be able to find another job with a better company (Google) where they will be able to find the flexibility they are used to (Google). The ones who can't find a better place to work (Google) will be forced to come into the office and steal your office supplies and stare out your windows. 

Way to weed out the best!

Sincerely,

Jen

PS - You have my permission to run this letter on the front page of Yahoo if you think it would help boost morale.

OK, so what do you think? Is this a good idea for Yahoo employees?

Hey, I've been nominated for a Bloggie. Actually, two, but I don't want to get greedy. I just want to win WEBLOG OF THE YEAR. If you have a minute (really, it takes a whole minute) to vote for me I'd appreciate it. 

Photo source: Freedigitalphotos

59 comments:

The Dose of Reality said...

UH NO. It is without a doubt the stupidest idea ever. Because, hello, who will actually want to work there...certainly no one with any talent. Or desire to have a work/life balance. Way to go Marissa.

yourfriendrobin said...

Jeez, what a killjoy. I'm all for working from home. It doesn't really work for me, personally, since elementary schools are kind of sticklers about being there to watch the children and everything...

QueenSuchandSuch said...

I could use some new office supplies. I only have 40 post it note pads left.

The Judge said...

I disagree, actually. Working at home tends to lead to more fucking around in my experience.

Even more so, however, I can't say that I feel sorry for the Yahoo employees. Those are some first-world problems right there. "I have to go to my OFFICE to go to WORK! Slave drivers!" No. That's some crybaby bullshit. You work for someone else, you do it on their terms - and asking an employee to work in an office is not a ridiculous request, not in the least.

Amanda said...

Dear Marissa,

I quit. Suck it.

Sincerely,
Every yahoo employee who loved their job because of the parenting freedoms it allowed them.

Amanda said...

Except for when those were not the terms agreed to when the employee took the job. Asking an employee to come into the office is not unreasonable. Would it be unreasonable however, to tell a 9-5 office employee that starting now without exception, all of you will work 12am-8am?

Unknown said...

"For me, it's God, family and Yahoo -- in that order." --Marissa Mayer

But she wants everyone else to put work before family. Hypocrite!

Anonymous said...

Generically speaking it's a horrible idea that goes against everything I think and the way most of the tech world works now.

Having said that, for Yahoo! and given its current state of being a complete mess, this is right for them and a good step to reign at least part of their problem.

I wrote about it last week. Let me know what you think. http://thecubicleviews.com/2013/02/27/shes-only-mostly-right/

Adrienn Hunt said...

Bitch. Her, not you. of course.

The Judge said...

No. But like you said, asking an employee to come to the office is not unreasonable. The two are different. One request is reasonable; the other is not.

Sara said...

When I read the article I wanted to punch her in the throat too! Some people actually work much better at home and not being chained to their desk for 10+ hours a day.

Nat said...

I agree with you Jen! I've been wondering when you were going to post about this. Nicely done!

Cynthia said...

I'm thinking that she's looking to get rid of A LOT of dead weight at Yahoo! - the company is tanking and, apparently, a lot of people who were "working" from home weren't really.

Some people can be productive at home, but some jobs require you to work at the same time as everyone else on the same thing. I know of some other less famous companies that used the same thing to weed out the dead weight after mergers/spin-offs etc. My husband's team managed to unload three people who were nothing but dead weight by requiring them to show up at work and do their jobs - much quicker and easier than months of remediation and write-ups.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to play devil's advocate a bit here. To be fair, since Marissa is the CEO of Yahoo, could it be possible that she is privy to a few details that the rest of us outsiders are not? Yahoo is not exactly a thriving company. It's a company in trouble - one that used to be on top, but is no longer. Obviously, whatever culture the company has right now is not working. I would assume that this is part of her attempt to turn it around.

I do agree that the method of delivery for the new policy (just an email, no meeting or in-person delivery by her or any of her C-suite compadres) left something to be desired. I also think her building herself a nursery at the same time is kind of gauche, but personally I would take it as an excuse to bring my own kids to work. ;)

Dilymoa said...

I agree, this is to weed out who actually works and who doesn't. Unfortunately, this type of program leads to a lot of waste and abuse. My company will offer a laptop to take home to work on occasion, but your @ss better be in the office if it's not an emergency.

Melissa I. said...

No comment about Marissa's edict. I share your sentiments.

On a lighter note, I think Phillip gets his pink panties by washing tighty-whitey undies with something new and RED. :)

spymay said...

I agree.I bet she was thinking,"What's the easiest way to get rid of some of these fucktards?If I make them all come to work for awhile,I can weed out the lazy ass workers and replace them with people who want to work."Seriously,I don't think they'll have a shortage of applicants willing to come in to the office.

Unknown said...

I agree that asking them to come into the office is not unreasonable in and of itself. However, from what I've been reading on this, it looks like many (if not most) of the people who are now being told they have to come into the office were hired for jobs that did not require them to work from a Yahoo office, it looks like there's a good number of employees who don't even live near one of the yahoo offices so for them to come to work in the office every day will mean they have to pick up and move because of this. I get what she was trying to do with this, but there has to be a better way. Maybe she should have grandfathered all the current employees in and started the "no work from home" rule with new hires or when people transition into different positions within the company.

Athena HM said...

Hell no. This was a horrible idea by an already flailing company.

Sue said...

I agree that any 'worker friendly' policy can be abused, and that there are definitely people out there who claim to be working from home when they're not. Thing is, if you're going to a policy like this to weed out the dead wood, the standard needs to be evenly applied.

I've seen plenty of people who show up at the office every day yet still manage to stay under the radar while doing absolutely nothing. And most companies will require corrective action as a token means of rehabilitating dead wood before firing slackers outright. Yeah, it's possibly easier to see them when they're actually in the office, but companies are so risk averse that they want to build a big set of proof before firing anyone.

debrah said...

Jen, we are sisters of the same ilk... wrote a letter to her as well....maybe we should inundate her with pissed mother blogger posts? LOL....great letter!

happyvector said...

I think there's probably a balance they're missing. I think some jobs are better suited to working at home than others, but I think a better solution would be to require them to work from the office on certain days. This way, there would be the increased collaboration she's looking for, but they would still be able to work from home as well.

sara7venus said...

My husband was hired for a position in his company that was 50% telecommute. His office is still very flexible with him. You know what? He gets his work done no matter what. He stays up until 3 a.m. if he has to. He does this because he appreciates the flexibility from his employer. If he worked at a company like Yahoo, he'd be the first one out the door.

Anonymous said...

She's built a nursery next to her office. My guess is she has a nanny that goes to work with her and the baby every day. She's achieved her mega-corp position not just from talent but also because she's been the person who is often most willing to put in the longest hours. The point is, she DOES work from home. It's just not from her house.

NoBloggingJustReading said...

Yep, she's weeding out the slackers, including the ones who show up to the office currently, because now there will be others around to se that they wander around all day doing fuck all nothing.

I bet once things are going well for yahoo again, WFH will be reinstated.

Robyn said...

Working from home certainly isn't for everyone. I'm a freelancer, so I work from home, but my husband wouldn't be nearly as productive as I am at home. Marissa's change of Yahoo's policy IS a good way to weed out the people taking advantage of the benefit, but for those of us who work better at home (and who have worked their lifestyle around that flexibility), it's a deal-breaker. I've been freelancing from home since I was pregnant with my first child, and I took care of both of my kids as needed, while still getting my work done during school and naps and after bedtime. If that were taken away from me and I had to put my kids in daycare to go into an office, I'd find something else. So many employers are moving toward flexible workplaces, and for Yahoo to go backwards, it must mean that there's something else to the story.

SanH said...

In reality is that it might be more to it that lead her to take that decision; it might help to weed out the bad, yes. But she might loose some good employees in the process, yes.

Anonymous said...

I figure there is something bigger going on, either she wants to get rid of people who are abusing the system, or just make sweeping cuts. If these people have valuable skills, yeah its a pain trying to find a new job, but worth it to have a better work/life balance. Lets not kid ourselves, most these people, if they have the cojones and the skills to back it up, could end up in a better position with a company that isn't floundering its way into the 21st century. Win/win

Robbie said...

My problem with it is she is building a nursery next to her office, but is now telling other parents you need to find child care for your kids. It's not easy finding good affordable child care. These families now have commuter expenses. What if the family only had one car because one worked at home?

J Adams said...

Asking an employee to come to the office is not unreasonable; asking an employee who lives in Tulsa, OK, to come in to the San Jose, CA, office he is employed out of effective immediately IS unreasonable. Because that is what happened. People were hired for telecommuting jobs from all over the country and are now being told to report to the office 5 states away.

RachRiot said...

We need to give her a break-- I think she may be suffering from PPD Postpartum Douchebaggery. It's real, people.

J Adams said...

Check out Amazon. Search for "Men's Pink Briefs" and you will see that there are A LOT of pink men's panties out there.

Like American Apparel's - http://www.amazon.com/American-Apparel-Brief-X-Large-Pink-White/dp/B009AJGUOW/ or Andrew Christian's with built-in banan hammock - http://www.amazon.com/Color-Vibe-Boxer-Bubble-Large/dp/B00B081M12/

Unknown said...

Yeah, you have to understand people build their entire lives around their work-from-home schedules. Some have families who rely on them for soccer practice or other obligations. Some have spouses who also work and they've worked out the routine based on at least one person working from home. Daycare, school, meals, pickups...all are scheduled around the idea of someone working from home. Chances are more than just the employees are being affected. Working from home works GREAT for some people and indeed studies have found that workers in some fields are just as, if not more, productive at home as in the office. Call it flexibility, call it work/life balance, call it people wanting to have a life outside of work -- it's something we could ALL benefit from in the long run. They could have handled this more graciously and found balance rather than just banning it outright. Many, many people took a job at Yahoo BECAUSE of this policy and to just yank the rug out from under them is ridiculous.

WickedSteppMom said...

Hey Judge: So, what would you have the family do who has the parent who deliberately chose a job where he could telecommute because Mom has health issues & is unable to drive? Oh, too bad for you & your kids...they don't get to go to school anymore (the school bus doesn't pick up here) and I guess those appointments at the university hospital will just have to wait..or, I guess I could walk there? Hmm, if it takes an hour by car, I should probably start 2 days before my appointment.

fatkid said...

Very few Google Engineers can work from home on a full-time basis. They have to be exceptional.

Gina Jacobs Thomas said...

Well said, Jen. This woman is so clearly out of touch with her employees AND reality. If I was a Yahoo employee, I would jump ship faster than my kids can eat an Oreo.

Zoe said...

So people with families need to spend more on childcare and more on gas consumption. Nice.

The Judge said...

Hey Wicked SteppMom: People deal with those problems all the time and still go to work. I'm not saying her solution is perfect. I'm just saying it's not unreasonable.

Vera said...

Wait... what? Yahoo is still around... I thought they went belly up years ago!

Crazy Mama said...

That is how a majority of CEO's are. It is sickening and maddening, but true.

Crazy Mama said...

Most of these people already had their children at daycare. Working at home doesn't mean that you are watching your kids too. But it does allow you to find a daycare close to home and take away the long commute that those in metro areas often have. You can get 2 hours of your day back to your family without going into the office. There are also numerous distractions at the office and you are not able to get your work done on time so your either stay at the office later taking away more time from your family or you don't get the work done. Telecommuters can spend 3 quality hours with their families at the end of the day, put the kids to bed and get back to work. If they under perform don't make them come back to the office, fire their asses!

Cynthia said...

BTW - most people who are allowed to work from home are not also supposed to be caring for small children at the same time. It doesn't exactly lend itself to taking care of important job-related phone calls or focusing on work.

In most work environments, doing your work at 3:00 in the morning, when you are supposed to be collaborating with others and/or providing tech support during working hours doesn't cut it.

Jen J. said...

That is because she can afford to have nannies, housecleaners, cooks etc., some people have to do those things themselves and still work long hours.

Unknown said...

She's just desperate to put her stamp on the company. Doing something different and obvious shows she is doing something. So when Yahoo finally does go belly up, she can pretend she tried to fix it. There is a reason a company like Yahoo goes with someone with zero experience. Because no one else wanted the job.

TNMom said...

I would exactly ditto commenter "Robyn". She said it perfectly. I agree though, I would be LIVID!!! <3 Devan

kaypea Ramsdale said...

she's trying to save the entire company from not having to find new jobs. . . I'd want to help with that. . . or I might want to find an new job. . . either way, if I choose not to come into work, yeah, I'm finding another job.

Wendy Wainwright said...

Tell Hubs it's called washing your white underwear with a red shirt. What man doesn't have pink panties?

http://marginalia.wendywainwright.com

Janine Huldie said...

Yup another dumb ass who thinks she can save the world (Yahoo) and the only problem is she is a complete Yahoo and tool herself!! Seriously, what kind of sadist does this to her employees. Like you said Google is hiring and everyone could use some spare office supplies now and then. Great retort Jen and wouldn't expect any less!!

Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms said...

Being CEO of Yahoo may be like be the CEO of Blockbuster A point to ponder. Ellen

fatkid said...

She is trying to bring the Google culture (where she cut her teeth) with her to Yahoo. Very few Google employees are allowed to telecommute full-time.

Wendy at Taking the Long Way Home said...

You truly are at your best when you are ripping someone a new one!

And yahoo? Is it even relevant anymore?

Anonymous said...

Robyn,

I was scrolling through the comments looking for someone who felt the same way I did - and I came across your comment. I also presume there must be some pretty solid data showing that the folks working from home are either underperforming or are non-performers and the best way to weed them out / light a fire under their asses is to make a statement like she did.

I'm terrible working at home, yet super-awesome in an office environment...

Wendy said...

Wait a minute...is the nursery for all the Yahoo kids or just hers? Lame.

Adam B said...

I agree with both of you. I'm in grad school right now, with no classes on Fridays. Although I live 25 minutes away from school, I still drive in on Fridays, because I know I will be useless at home and get nothing done. For Mayer to make this drastic change, she must feel there are some serious issues that can be addressed by this policy change. And I also bet that at some point she will make some exceptions for individual employees.

Unknown said...

Over the last four years my company has: Cut everyones pay 10%, not agreed to when I was hired; elimnated family health insurance, not agreed to when I was hired; ended vacation time accrual, not agreed to when I was hired; ended company 401K contributions, not agreed to when I was hired, eliminated direct deposit of paychecks, not agreed to when I was hired...you get the picture. Companies can do these things and they must to save the company and ALL the jobs. Some of the things are being reinstated, the company is coming back to life and at any point of the last 4 years, I/we had the choice to leave at will if it didn't work for us any longer. I applaud her actions and hope it works. All the whiners can suck it up and either bail out or stick it out but STFU about it.

Anonymous said...

Best letter ever! As if the american maternity leave could get any lower... TWO weeks. She's setting the female worker back more than she knows.

Anonymous said...

Hire a bad employee, get bad work -- on location or off. Hire someone that is a professional and understands that your work speaks for you -- then you have a solid asset. I have worked remotely for 10+ years as a developer. I am overloaded with work because I have integrity, a little OCD, and take pride in what I deliver. I work in an agile environment, which means I am on a team of developers, and have to always be available during work hours. Being remote has NEVER inflicted what I do, and in fact I work with a lot of developers in the same position. Stop deciding if on or off location is better, and just find the right people to work for you. Marissa Mayer is a corporate mouthpiece -- and not a geek. Because if she was... she wouldn't be talking the bullshit she is.

wizarddrummer said...

There are not many people that fall under the category of people I loathe on this planet but, Marissa Mayer is one of them.

She has single handedly ruined one of the best all around Internet email platforms (Yahoo's Classic Email) and turned it into the biggest pile of degenerate crap I have ever seen on the internet! It's so bad that I had to find another email client to work with. I did and it works great. Only problem is, that I still have some correspondence that hasn't switched yet. So, what this means, is that sometimes I have to go onto Yahoo's sloppy, mangled, interface that has so much gobbledygook programming (that does not work) under the hood that I can type faster than the keystrokes appear on the editor window!

In the larger picture she's actually ruined Yahoo!

Being really young in some cases is a detriment. It's obvious she's not an old school person that likes a simple, clearly defined email interfaces that work efficiently without all of the extra crap!

Hell, she probably never uses the on line email she's butchered!

It used to be when you composed a NEW email to someone that it became its own listing. Now, whenever I compose NEW email to someone it gets bundled into all of the previous emails. Like I said, the new email is polluted with really crappy, over the top, gee whiz look what I can do programming.

I do hate her. I wish I could throw her through a chipper shredder.

Unknown said...

It took you all day to write this article? I can't say I don't agree with her decision. Work is work not playtime either get your ass to the office or enjoy the ride home.

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