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Yahoo’s Mayer thinks that remote workers are… too remote

Kara Swisher reported that Yahoo’s CEO, Marrisa Mayer, has decided to roll back the company’s quasi-commitment to remote work. In a company wide email, PR head Jackie Reses lowered the boom:

YAHOO! PROPRIETARY AND CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION — DO NOT FORWARD

Yahoos,

Over the past few months, we have introduced a number of great benefits and tools to make us more productive, efficient and fun. With the introduction of initiatives like FYI, Goals and PB&J, we want everyone to participate in our culture and contribute to the positive momentum. From Sunnyvale to Santa Monica, Bangalore to Beijing — I think we can all feel the energy and buzz in our offices.

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 all present in our offices. Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings. Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home. We need to be one Yahoo!, and that starts with physically being together.

Beginning in June, we’re asking all employees with work-from-home arrangements to work in Yahoo! offices. If this impacts you, your management has already been in touch with next steps. And, for the rest of us who occasionally have to stay home for the cable guy, please use your best judgment in the spirit of collaboration. Being a Yahoo isn’t just about your day-to-day job, it is about the interactions and experiences that are only possible in our offices.

Thanks to all of you, we’ve already made remarkable progress as a company — and the best is yet to come.

Jackie

I’ll leave to one side the personal issues for people who took jobs under the agreement that they could work away from an official Yahoo office, and simply comment on this at the macroeconomic level. This is going against the tide on remote work, which is growing. Even if Mayer thinks she’s trying to kindle a new culture at Yahoo, pretending the 11,000 employee company is a startup and everyone has to toil endlessly under the watchful eyes of their fellow Yahoos to share culture is a bit much.

More likely this is the next step in a cultural cleansing of the company, one intended to scrape off all the folks who psychologically don’t fit in with the new cultural norms that Mayer believes she needs in place to make Yahoo go zoom. She wants more collaboration, by which she means she needs to get employees buying into longterm strategic goals, and the principles and practices that management believes are essential for meeting those goals. In this ‘collaboration’ is a code word for becoming part of a collective, where certain behaviors — like working independently outside of Yahoo offices — will not be tolerated.

[I have another post coming on that topic in a more general light.]