Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Yahoo CEO Ends Telecommuting, Saying Internet Kills Interpersonal Communication

SAN NARCISO, Calif. (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, who famously returned to work just two weeks after giving birth to her son, made news again Monday by issuing an edict that ends the company's telecommuting policies. The memo sent by Jackie Reses, Yahoo's human resources director, ordered employees who work remotely to return to their physical office locations or quit. The Internet pioneer's announcement told workers that "being at Yahoo isn't just about your day-to-day job, it is about the interactions and experiences that are only possible in our offices." It also reminded those employees that social networking, instant messaging and other electronic communications have actually stifled interpersonal relationships, and serve to alienate people from meaningful exchanges.

Mayer, a former Google executive, stressed that face-to-face interactions are critical to collaboration. The majority of Google's employees practically live at the Googleplex headquarters, which is an environment Mayer hopes to recreate at Yahoo.

"Google employees don't live on the campus because of the world class food, medical facilities, gyms, massage parlors, entertainment centers, game rooms, salons and laundry services; they stay there all day and night because of their commitments to the company's vision -- because the work matters," Mayer insisted. "We can't afford any amenities at Yahoo other than a communal break area, but that's immaterial. Employees will devote their livelihoods to Yahoo if we offer them a better corporate vision -- and if they want to remain employed, because places like Google don't hire from the dregs of the technology barrel."

Former Yahoo executives say Mayer's decision is primarily driven by the need to improve lackluster productivity.

"Moving away from telecommuting -- despite every study that suggests virtual working enhances performance -- will create the appearance of higher productivity; you know, butts in chairs," one departed executive said.

Seeing an office building bustling with busy people instills confidence in customers and, more importantly, investors.

"Working smarter and not harder may yield more meaningful outcomes, but it does little to convince investors that Yahoo is a thriving hive of activity," Mayer said. "For a publicly traded company to increase its value, stockholders need to see the 'working harder' part."

But insiders also applauded Mayer's decision to ban telecommuting, believing her return to 1950's business principles will foster a culture that can reinvigorate the camaraderie and personal relationships that have been ravaged by the one-sided, self-centered, almost agoraphobic rise of social media.

"We rely more and more on the Internet to buy products, give us our news, connect us with friends and family, and generally avoid the personal interactions we once had with visits, phone calls, trips to the mall and family dinners," Mayer explained, with a peculiar sense of longing and nostalgia.

"We shop online, we chat online, we instant message and we tweet instead of writing letters or holding real conversations with our loved ones. And those are vitally important to the perpetuation of our culture. So much is lost in the unilateral communications of the 21st century -- where we merely post statuses or update life events in 140 characters or do an Internet search for information instead of visiting a library or asking a friend. The Internet is literally killing society, and I don't want it killing Yahoo."

(c) 2013. See disclaimers.