Just Wait – Marissa Mayer Will Have Gen-Y Shouting Yahoo in 3 Years

Certainly there are plenty of Yahoo! employees (and freelancers) cursing Marissa Mayer’s name after her decision that no Yahoo! employee can work remotely.

At the risk of being ostracized by my fellow Gen-Y’ers, I’ll go on record as saying: it’s a smart move. It’s the exact thing Mayer needs to do right now to save that company.

What is one thing that new mothers are really good at that CEOs need in droves? Ruthless efficiency. That’s precisely the reason I like her decision.

Marissa Mayer may have just saved Yahoo and countless jobs for 3 more years and all it cost her was the temporary displeasure of all but one Gen-Y and, of course, every last one of Yahoo!’s remote workers.

Even so, my cheering of her decision probably comes as a surprise to those of you who’ve read Psychotic Resumes.

I’ve long been a proponent of working from home. From noisy chewers noshing at their desks (seriously – can you be productive next to a cow chewing in your ear?) to irritating managers who don’t give you any leeway to perform your work, I only found TWO office experiences I enjoyed. As a Gen-Y (Millennial), this is to be expected – a whopping 37% of us say we’d take a pay cut to get more flexibility at work.

It took me two short, awful years after graduation to amass 13 distinct jobs and an irrational loathing for working for anyone else. I can’t say I’d like to join Yahoo!’s ranks any time soon. I don’t even particularly like or use Yahoo’s services, besides Flickr.

But let me give you some food for thought: Yahoo!’s core market – they’re less than tech savvy, usually older, with established jobs . They’re not going to see this as a negative, in fact – it may instill loyalty in the brand for these old fogeys even more than it did before.

More than that, though – Yahoo! has been declining in relevancy with geeks (you know, the people blogging, tweeting, and writing for the media) for a long time. This is thanks in no small part to a huge, unfocused work force.

Remember Delicious? Gone. Flickr? Well – it’s precariously poised to take back some market share thanks to some mis-steps by Facebook and Instagram. Even so, without serious thought leadership and focus it’s unlikely that Flickr will survive as a household name to 2015. Yahoo.com email addresses are the bane of most web-savvy individuals everywhere as they ar the harbingers of spam as well as “you’ve got to be kidding me”-level tech help requests.

So why do I like the decision to kick the remote workers to the curb? Much like Nicholas Carlson points out – Marissa Mayer has found a work-around to announcing layoffs. There are plenty of remote-working lazy asses – folks who clock-in and turn off. While productivity for some folks does turn way up at home, it’s just not universally true.

Rather than a long, arduous process of figuring out who your best, most committed Yahoos are, Marissa made the choice crystal clear. If you’re committed to Yahoo, no matter what, you’ll stick around. Granted, she’s going to lose a LOT of really good (if not ‘in for life’) employees who work from home. Her memo was also pretty staunchly anti-family (“don’t wait around for the cable guy if you can help it”) – but it will balance out in the long run. To me, this sounds like a shot across the bow to the unproductive “sick-time abusing” employees of any kind.

Moreover, this is most likely a temporary inconvenience that most folks will forget about by next week. If Chick-Fil-A is still shilling chicken sandwiches while making $2m in donations to anti-gay groups after the whole controversy, I’d say this whole stunt with Yahoo! will blow over.

Not only will it blow over, but Mayer will be poised to make a miraculous change of heart once the dead weight has been shed from Yahoo’s ranks. She’ll be in the position to offer her best and brightest employees some additional benefits.

All the dedicated Yahoos have to do is wait for the pendulum to come back around to “OK, if you’re really good, you can work from home” and stick out their obnoxious cud-chewing cubicle neighbors in the meantime. Be strong. Noise canceling headphones help!

Mayer has made an unpopular decision, for sure – one that will cost her some Gen-Y loyalty in the short run. In the long run? She’ll still be at the helm because Yahoo will still be in business rather than broke.

(Header Photo: Nom Nom Nom)

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