Monday Moaning

Earth-Belt-Tighten-218x218Sometimes corporations and companies make illogical decisions.

We are in a time of crisis, global everything is screwed up almost beyond redemption.

The environment as well as finances are well up the creek and we have no paddles.

Austerity and belt tightening are being felt everywhere.

We are fighting our carbon footprint, trying to reduce it and then along comes some quack pot CEO and makes a decision to add 11,500 more workers to the daily commute.

Marissa-yahoo-offices-huffpoTalk about a silly bitch.

She wants them at their desks, round the water coolers, swiping their entry passes, day in, day out. Not for her, and no longer for them, the option of working from home – and to hell with the environmental fight. So she no longer wants employees working from home.

I am talking about Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer.

Alexandra Shulman on working from home: it’s not an adequate alternative

Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer caused a stir this week when she banned staff from working at home. British Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman explains why she agrees with her

‘I believe in the collective creativity of an office’ … Alexandra Shulman, editor of British Vogue, in her London office.


It doesn’t seem right, does it? Marissa Mayer, a woman who has succeeded where so many women have not yet, in reaching the top of one of the world’s most important technology companies, has let us down. This week, she ordered that the 11,500 Yahoo employees in the US should work in the office or leave the company. She wants them at their desks, round the water coolers, swiping their entry passes, day in, day out. Not for her, and no longer for them, the option of working from home.

The fact that Mayer – not just a woman, but a young woman with a small child – has nixed the rights of her employees to take advantage of the arguably more child-friendly and independent option of working outside the office has disappointed many. It may be a way to reduce the substantial staff numbers at Yahoo, but that is not the issue. The issue is that nowadays we have come to believe that working at home is a completely adequate alternative to showing our face in the office.

But it’s not. Working from home is exactly that. Working in the office is something different. At Vogue, there have been many occasions when a member of the team has suggested to me that it would be incredibly helpful for them if I would consider them working from home for part of the week. We wouldn’t notice the difference, they often say. The rest of their department are happy to make this work. They would be on their mobile and email all day (a notion that always makes me think of some strange person wired into electrical sockets from their bed). Honestly, they would get far more done.

Invariably my reaction is the same. Sorry, but no. This is not born out of some stubborn recalcitrance where I believe that you are only productive if you are seated at a desk in my sightline (far from it – I am always urging people to get out and about), but because I believe in the collective creativity of an office. Some of the best stories in any publication I have worked on have come out of a glancing remark somebody has made about their night before, or a piece of gossip, or a joke. The daily download of chatter within the office feeds into what we produce in an incalculable way. Having half the team sitting at home, fiddling around on a search engine from the kitchen or pasting up mood boards from the sofa does not replicate that.

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Both these women are crazy.

At the very time we should be encouraging more people to work from home for the benefit of the environment, they are thumbing their noses at the increase in global carbon footprint or the possibility of reducing it.

More people working from home reduces the load on commuter systems, reduces the need for the number of watercoolers whose manufacture needlessly uses resources, reduces the amount of office space needed. In fact the more who work from home reduces everything; and all these reductions are beneficial to the planet.



6 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Alex Jones on March 4, 2013 at 7:20 pm

    Looks to be a backward step, an attempt at control rather than liberated creativity.



    • >Alex, definitely a retro-step. If governments were serious about climate change, they would be offering tax rebates/incentives to companies that out-sourced their workers home. The more workers who worked at home the greater the rebate. Then corporations would be clambering to send their workers home to work over nappies and coffee.




  2. But it’s not black and white, is it? There are many, many jobs that can be done from home. And there are a few for which you really need the interaction. A collective, creative enterprise like magazine publication is one of those. A research lab is another. I can tell you from personal experience that once in a while, an off the cuff remark at the water fountain (of the “arm-chair physics” type) leads to a novel solution, or occasionally to a whole new project, and yes, papers and patents. Which is why so many research labs house the very best espresso makers.

    It’s not black and white in another way: I think it’s really okay if you telecommute part-time, that is, you are physically at the water fountain two or three days a week, and spend the rest of the time working from home where you can be MUCH more productive (unless you have very young children in the house) because you’re not hanging around the water fountain half the time. This would still save serious carbon emissions.



    • >CelloMom, I have to agree with you. There are times when work must be done as a team The coffee machine is a focal point. I remember from my air force days, we often did more work in the bar of an evening, because we didn’t have the ‘office’ atmosphere. But on the same token, there are many of the more mundane office tasks that can be done at home.

      For example, I blog, I have eight blogs, I can successfully work from home. I have blogged from work and the quality and ideas just weren’t there, weren’t the same. I have to have the peace and quiet (even when I was in a family situation) to work successfully. My most productive work hours were 5am until breakfast. My brain functions better in the morning than after about 11am. We are all different, so yes, it’s not all black and white.




  3. I agree with you 100%

    These women are mad, completely and utterly mad. Have they no brains? So what do Mothers struggling to make ends meet do if they can’t afford childcare and need to earn money (apart from the oldest job in the world?) Why is it not acceptable for them to work from home?

    One of my daughters works for the UK’s largest construction company. Since a month ago they have agreed that on Fridays she works from home. She does more work on a Friday for them than she does Mon-Thurs and it means she doesn’t have to commute. It’s a win win situation!



    • >Lottie, your comment reminded me of something my father used to tell my mother whenever she asked for extra housekeeping, “You’re sitting on a fortune.”

      Not only mothers, but many jobs that father does can also be done from home. If, as in your daughter’s case, all the world could work from home one day a week, think of the global savings.




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