We wanted Marissa Mayer to be our heroine, our champion — the woman who had it all. She would be a great mom, a great company leader, and at the same time fix what was broken about corporate policy where it relates to women. It's now obvious that's not going to happen.
Throughout all this, we have started treating every decision she makes as a feminist issue and that's a problem. Banning work-from-home is a work place issue. Yes, the majority of people who work-from-home are mom's who are juggling work and being the main caretaker of their family, but there are plenty of others who are not. The problem with highlighting it as a feminist issue is that it clouds the real problem: the lack of trust and respect Mayer has for ALL her employees. Men and women are both affected by this policy change.
Anyone who has read Daniel Pink's "Drive" knows the studies on how to motivate workers. It's not money or being watched every second, it's autonomy, purpose, and mastery. And when you take away an employee's ability to make a choice about how and when they work, you're taking away their autonomy and their happiness. By disallowing her employees to work from home she is telling them "I don't trust you and I don't care about your autonomy.". That's a bold statement and it will definitely hurt her relationship with everyone at Yahoo.
I understand the sentiment of an employer needing to know everyone is working. The problem is that if she feels that people are taking advantage of remote work and not actually working, making sure she can see them in the office isn't going to fix that. Unmotivated people aren't necessarily motivated by being watched. They will do the bare minimum to appear to be getting work done. If she believes employers are abusing the work-from-home policy, forcing them into the office doesn't mean productivity or creativity will rise.
Full disclosure: I'm somewhat biased, being a remote worker myself. I personally don't do well without quiet working spaces or with office drama. I find that environment distracting and since moving to remote-work my productivity has soared. My stress level has dropped dramatically and part of that is not having to deal with a half-hour commute each way. Being able to control my own environment is key to my creative process.
My company is almost completely comprised of remote workers. The reason is because we wanted the best talent the US had to offer, not the best talent within a 50 mile radius of our headquarters. Remote work isn't for everyone, but it's up to managers to determine who is and who isn't capable to producing work at home. Completely banning remote work will hurt employee moral, and that won't be good for Yahoo.
For a company that's already flailing this is not the way to draw new talent. Yahoo needs to figure out how to attract the top-notch developers that are flocking to Google, Facebook, or various well-funded start-ups. When Silicon Valley has all the choice, why would anyone choose to work for a company that so blatantly states that it doesn't respect their employees time or lives outside of work?