Marissa Mayer: Why Yahoo CEO Banned Working From Home

Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo!, created an uproar in the business community last week when she banned working from home. As Tayla Holman reported, the Human Resources department sent employees a memo informing them that they will need to either start coming in to work by June 1 or find a new job.

The unpopular decision has created anger in the work-at-home community, especially among women. When Mayer gave birth to her first child last fall, she famously arranged for a nursery to be build in her office at Yahoo!.

Women like Rana Florida, CEO of the Creative Class Group, wondered wondered aloud in the Huffington Post if Mayer “has lost the plot” or, at least, lost touch with reality. Of course, most women can’t install entire nurseries in their cubicles — and their co-workers would probably rather not have babies crying nearby anyway. For new mothers, working from home can often be the only practical solution.

However, there’s another side to the story, which may reflect on Yahoo!’s past business practices that Mayer is struggling to clean up. An unnamed source told Business Insider’s Nicholas Carlson that she did the right thing.

The anonymous insider, described as a former engineer for the company, spoke out about how telecommuters had abused Yahoo!’s long-standing work-from-home policy. “People [were] slacking off like crazy, not being available, spending a lot of time on non-Yahoo! projects. It was a great way to get [Yahoo!] to pay you while you put in minimal work and [set up] your side startup.”

Sam Dogen at Financial Samurai had another theory about why Marissa Mayer’s proposal was a smart move. He strongly hinted that Yahoo! knows that at least some of the work-at-home employees will quit over the new policy.

“These employees are likely more senior, harder to manage, and more expensive than the average employee as well. Let’s say the average work-from-home employee tenure is ten years and the average total income package is $200,000. By my calculations, every employee who quits voluntarily likely saves the firm $100,000 – $150,000 in severance. Nice work Marissa!”

Dogen says that he’s met Marissa Mayer, and he considers her “brilliant.” Do you agree that she banned working from home to benefit Yahoo!’s bottom line?