Hot Topics / Motherhood / Web Culture

Why Marissa Mayer and the New Yahoo! Scare Me.

Warning: Due to my personal belief about work-life balance, I am “kinda” breaking WWST Commandments #4 and #9… sorry. I have a passion for business and marketing, and a new passion for motherhood, both of which I’m currently trying to work out. I don’t HATE Marissa Mayer – I don’t know her. I don’t know how she raises her new baby, or her home life. I don’t work at Yahoo! nor did I work at Google while she was there. This is pure outside judgement on my behalf and I take full responsibility for it. I’m sure it wouldn’t have made the news if it was Mark Mayer cutting the telecommuting. And no one would’ve been talking about him taking a 2 week paternity leave after the birth of his child… I know. But he wouldn’t have been accepting a CEO position while 5 months pregnant, so there.

Dear Marissa Mayer,

Your announcement yesterday about banning your Yahoo! employees from telecommuting – sent out on a SUNDAY, by the way? Good job telling them that your company is more important than their life. Okay, woohoo for you, you’ve got big balls and worked until you gave birth. You took a crazy short two week maternity leave (sitting in your big leather CEO chair must have been REALLY comfortable and your healing time lightening fast!) and so you expect your employees to be just as dedicated? Thumbs up on your support of family values and mental health.


I tried really hard not judging you about working all the way through pregnancy – hell, I was pregnant when I read all about it, swollen and exhausted and struggling to limit my caffeine intake and overtime all while attempting to deliver projects, reports, quotes and manage my team. I was exhausted just thinking about how you planned to deliver a child AND revamp a whole huge company.

I did my best not to question your reasoning when it was said that you would only take those two weeks to stay home with your newborn. At two weeks, I still wasn’t sleeping properly, my milk hadn’t come in just yet, I still had a very painfully stitched up vajayjay, and was just tired and sweaty and both my husband and I were all about our baby, 24/7. (But I forget, you have the moolah to hire the help to take care of your little one. I guess you’re not big into attachment parenting either, hunh.)

But now, learning that you and your board of executives think it’s time to go back to archaic work systems by no longer allowing your employees to work from home even though they signed on perhaps due to that very package? That’s gutsy, girl. I sincerely hope that other companies don’t follow suit just because you decided it was “fun” to tie your employees to their desks.

I’m scared because we finally got to a place in the work-home relationship where it was acceptable for employees to take a day to work from home thanks to the Internet, Skype and VPN connections. I’ve had very productive days working from home. And yes, sometimes it was a challenge because my ISP sometimes sucked (I’m looking at you, Videotron) and my Skype connection would break during an important team meeting… that’s embarrassing… and yes, sometimes I answered emails in my pyjamas at 3pm, but the bottom line was that I was always available and my work was always done. Hell, I’ve even joined in on 2 hour conference calls from my home office with clients in NYC, my colleagues at our Montreal office and me in the suburbs, and the clients never even knew I wasn’t at the office. It’s totally doable. And the idea that working from home means you also log in at 9 a.m. and out at 5 p.m. is bull – I would be at my computer at 7 a.m. and would log out in the evening. Yes, I had longer breaks and I napped when I could – I was pregnant, I had to – but I didn’t mind stretching out my work day to compensate. So in the eyes of my employer, my billable hours were the same, but my schedule was longer.

Now that I’m a mom, having the peace of mind that telecommuting will be a possibility when it’s time for me to head back to work after my maternity leave – something that I’m very nervous thinking about, to be honest – is something that means a lot to me. Let’s face it: I love my career, I love the company I work for, and I love the work I do. But I will never, EVER love it more than my daughter. And that’s a big mind shift for me.

I used the be the employee that happily worked overtime to deliver projects or that would be at my desk at 7 a.m. batting out emails and wrapping up presentations and strategies. That was part of what made me a valuable team member and I enjoyed it (even though I bitched about it at times). But now that I have a baby, I know that that part of my work identity will be difficult to keep up. I don’t want to be the mom that misses out on her child’s milestones because I was too busy managing a project and analyzing campaign metrics.

I work to live, not live to work. And having a child is the single biggest project I’ve ever worked on and I intend to devote my time to it, fully. I was under the impression that in 2013 that was the norm. But nope. Looks like Yahoo! is taking it back to 1953.

Read the entire internal Yahoo! memo here.


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