Working from Home – Yahoo! and Marissa
In the recent effort to improve its standings amongst its competitors, they brought on Marissa Mayer, a former Google executive. Mayer understood the challenge that this position would be accompanied with, and dove in head first. In recent weeks, the media has swarmed about her announcement to revoke telecommunication privileges from Yahoo! staff. This has an caused uproar in the industry causing Mayer’s decision, as well as her delivery to be under attack. Mayer sent out a memo to employees in late February 2013 announcing this decision—to revoke telecommunication privileges.
The announcement was immediately leaked to the media causing competitors to offer positions to the Yahoo! staff. Yahoo! currently has a workforce of roughly 12,000, in 25 countries (Yahoo! , 2013). Problem Statement Delivering the news has had a large impact on so many Yahoo! ’s employees. We feel the delivery should have been handled with delicacy. Mayer’s, tactic of sending out a memo to reveal her plans left employees in shock.
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How could Myer’s have better managed the revoking of telecommuting at Yahoo!? Mayer’s decision to revoke telecommunications was a planned change.
In situations where you can see the change coming, there is a great opportunity to plan it in a way that allows the transition to go smoothly. The text discusses the technical planning that goes into managing these changes, such as making sure the technology is in place and the job designs are updated for individual and groups; it also discusses the emotional aspects of the change that must be addressed, such as clarifying and creating core benefits and values of its people and the organization as a whole (Schermerhorn, Jr. , Osborn, Uhi-Bien, & Hunt, 2012).
Fact is the majority of individuals fear change. This fear can be detrimental to an organization because if its employees are not on-board supporting the change, it can cause more than a few road blocks. Literary Review DOES WORKING FROM HOME WORK? EVIDENCE FROM A CHINESE EXPERIMENT In order to fully analyze the challenge that Mayer faced, we found it important to investigate the research that is working against her. In the same week that the announcement was made regarding the removal of telecommuting privileges from Yahoo! s employees, Stanford released their own study regarding their experiments on telecommunication. Bloom, Liang, Roberts and Ying found from their experiment using a Chinese based call center, that working from home led to a 13% increase in performance. 9% of this increase was attributed to working more minutes per shift due to the tendency of the employees to take fewer breaks and fewer sick days. 4% of the increase was from more calls per minute, which the researchers attributed to a quieter working environment (Bloom, Liang, Roberts, & Zhichun, 2013). Yahoo! lso faces criticism from the public as the concern for work-life balance increases. Bloom, Liang, Roberts and Ying note that the number of households in the United States with both parents working has increased from 25% in 1968 to 48% in 2008 (Bloom, Liang, Roberts, & Zhichun, 2013). At the end of the experiment, the firm found that they saved $2,000 per year per employee working from home. They then offered telecommuting to the entire firm. While there are several benefits from working from home, there is also a negative. This negative being a decrease chance in promotions.
While doing this study and comparing the performance with all individuals, the study found that the promotion rate to decrease 50% for those employees working from home. At the end of the study however, two thirds of the control group wished to remain at the workplace due to concerns of loneliness and the lower rates of promotion. Over half of the employees that were selected to work from home in the experiment (treatment group) wished to return to the office; however, these employees were typically the ones that performed relatively poorly at home. ORGANIZATIONAL BEHAVIOR -12TH EDITION
Schermerhorn, Orborn, Uhi-Bien & Hunt discuss the management of change in chapter 14 of our text. They discuss how transformational change radically shifts the fundamental character of an organization. In particular, these shifts can be caused by a change in CEO, such as in the case of Yahoo!. These authors recognize the sensitive nature of changes in the organization and give examples on how to properly manage the process, such as celebrating short term wins, building on accomplishment, institutionalize results, develop a sense of urgency, communicate the vision and empowering others to act (Schermerhorn, Jr. Osborn, Uhi-Bien, & Hunt, 2012). STREETWISE HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT Streetwise Human Resource Management is one of our other resources for the literature review. This text gives leaders, enterprisers and HR representatives the knowledge to manage many aspects of company-employee relations. Patricia Buhler divides the text into essentially five sections. The main section that we used for this project was Part III’s Maximizing Employee Performance, chapter 11 Job Design. In this chapter we reviewed items pertaining to flexible job design and telecommuting.
After reading the applicable sections we had a better insight into maximizing performance by crafting suitable work environments. AN INSIDER’S GUIDE TO BUILDING A SUCCESSFUL CONSULTING PRACTICE An Insider’s Guide to Building a Successful Consulting Practice was used as an additional resource for this analysis. Bruce Katcher provides detailed information on being one’s own boss. This text explores the benefits of being able to control a person’s work time, work space and work activities. We used ideas from the Control of Workspace section to strengthen our position on allowing employees to work remote. GOOGLE: TEN GOLDEN RULES
This article was used to supplement areas where we compared Mayer’s past at Google to her actions of today. Written by Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, this speaks to each of the golden rules; explained by the author of the rules. This Newsweek article dives deeply into these rules and how they have played a successful part in the maturation of the company. Other issues talked about in this resource are “techno arrogance”, the changing workforce and managing creativity. THE HR ANSWER BOOK: AN INDISPENSABLE GUIDE FOR MANAGERS AND HUMAN RESOURCES PROFESSIONALS The last resource that was part of this project was a Human Resources text book.
This text deals with worker decision making from the stand point of the employer. Looking to increase employee satisfaction, productivity and retention; Smith and Hazin use over 200 questions to address these broad areas. We used this scholarly source to justify the pro telecommuting argument. Sections pertaining to the content of this project fell in the Employee Relations and Retention. The author feels that telecommuting is used to create a flexible work arrangement to help maintain a positive work-life balance. Analysis Mayer’s main issue is that she felt her Yahoo! mployees were not being collaboratively productive. There were claims that employees were not logging into the company VPN, a method of telecommuting, as well as claims that some were starting their own startups. Her perception of the existing work-from-home policies, or lack thereof, caused HR to make a new policy that all employees working remote must come back into the office; to work as one company. Mayer’s reaction to Yahoo! ’s declining market share, lead her to believe that an underlining productivity issue was caused by those few employees on a work-from-home status.
Her decision, sent out via memo, forced all employees to return to work in an attempt to increase collaborative efforts. In her eyes, her actions, a change in organizational behavior, should have had a positive effect on teamwork, but it was not been well received by all. We feel that Marissa’s leadership style is partly at fault when she made her decision. She chose to use a Directive Leadership approach when she ordered all remote employees back to the office; spelling out the subordinates’ tasks (Schermerhorn, Jr. Osborn, Uhi-Bien, & Hunt, 2012). Instead, as a new CEO to an established company she should have employed a more Supportive Leadership style; focusing on the needs of subordinates. In our class text we also found agreement; that “telecommuters report increase productivity (Schermerhorn, Jr. , Osborn, Uhi-Bien, & Hunt, 2012). ” We believe that the increases in job satisfaction from telecommuting have a connection to overall increased productivity. Telecommuters enjoy the flexibility of matching their work style to their lifestyle (Buhler, 2012).
We completely agree with the Stanford study and theses examples in that employees, when given the opportunity to choose their work environment, tend to excel. A 2007 study showed that 62% of respondents who cannot work off-site said they would like to (Katcher & Snyder, 2010). From this majority response we can see that they are many professionals that secretly yearn, if only given the opportunity, to work off site. One of the main attractions to working from home is avoiding the “time, aggravation and expense” of commuting (Buhler, 2012).
We have all had to sit in traffic jams both coming and leaving work; most find these times quiet annoying. As stated by Smith and Mazin telecommuting can boost productivity when employees spend less time commuting and suffering the frequent interruptions of an office setting. Inclement weather and other unsafe driving conditions can add stress to an employee’s day even before entering his or her workspace. During Hurricane Sandy of 2012 many professionals on the East Coast worked remotely to avoid harsh winds, rain, flooding and debris. To negate these issues office workers have found it convenient to work remotely.
One can imagine the amount of man hours that commuters can save by working remotely only a few days each week Additionally, long commutes from homes requires vast amounts of fuel; a direct cost to commuters that only increases as gas prices rise. When regular employees work remotely, “organizations enjoy cost savings on office space (Buhler, 2012). ” This cost as an expense is always a major factor to employers. Companies must rent or lease space for cubicle farms, conference rooms and closed door offices. Once secured, they need to be furnished with items usable by all employees able and disabled.
Often special furnishing such as wheeler chair lifts and ergonomic chairs can become expensive. These spaces must be maintained, cleaned and secure from liability. These rented and leased work areas are at a loss as they do not provide a return. Most employees communicate with e-mail, phone or conference calls; especially in teams that are geographically separate. Buhler states that “…most employees typically communicate with each other via e-mail rather than face-to-face”. We are certain that with open lines of communication co-workers can collaborate as if in the office together.
Recently, advances in technologies have seen the inception of free communication tools such as Skype and Google Gmail with video chat. These tools can be used to hold real time group or one-on-one meetings. “At IBM, up to $100 million have been committed to sessions such as the Innovation Jam, where employees in more than 160 countries and their clients, business partners—and even family members—engage in online moderated discussions to glean insights that will transform industries, improve human health, and help protect the environment over the course of the coming decades (Schermerhorn, Jr. Osborn, Uhi-Bien, & Hunt, 2012). This excerpt is evidence that high level companies are relying on collaborative technologies to facilitate innovations in their business. From a leadership perspective we strongly believe Marissa is underestimating the level of discipline of those employees that work remote. Her all-encompassing decision, we feel, was a knee jerk reaction to the free fall state of Yahoo! ’s market share. Her attempt to change her company is closely related to the Force-Coercion change strategy. This strategy uses authority as one of the primary inducements to change.
This use of fear is the main reason why this strategy is effective (Schermerhorn, Jr. , Osborn, Uhi-Bien, & Hunt, 2012). Instead of this approach, using the Shared-Power strategy would have actively involved the Yahoo! employees who were at risk of losing work from home privileges. We could find no instance where Marissa involved or empowered her employees to help make this change possible. The results of a Shared-Power strategy would lead to a longer-lasting and internalized change (Schermerhorn, Jr. , Osborn, Uhi-Bien, & Hunt, 2012). The employees at Yahoo! re highly motivated intelligent professionals and should be treated as such. Using this style may have allowed Marissa to introduce her work philosophy without as much negative feedback. Her past as a programmer, a structured repetitive position, could be at play in her feelings towards the work attendance of Yahoo! employees. Programmers often spend long hours in front of computer screens tolling away at lines of codes or commands. We must not overlook her past at Google. The 13 years spent in the Google environment can be seen as manifesting itself in her need for Yahoo! o emulate their culture. Google employees enjoy on campus luxuries not seen at any other company. The Mountain View, CA Internet giant encourages its highly intelligent professionals to become part the company; both in mind and body. Mayer seems to lean heavily on the third of Google’s 10 Golden Rules; Pack them In (Schmidt & Varian, 2005). This practice of filling rooms with team members within a few feet of each other is a form of forced collaboration. Instead, Mayer should sway towards the second Golden Rule of Cater to Their Every Need (Schmidt & Varian, 2005).
Taking this point of view would give those employees who need to work remote the freedom to make their own choice. Solutions Our primary solution to managing the change at Yahoo! is to have a mandatory in-house companywide meeting to discuss the success that has happened, will happen and is hoped to happen, at Yahoo!. From our research, we found that it is important for all of the people of the organization to see what the change is trying to accomplish and motivate them to support it. Yahoo! could teleconference offices around the world into the meeting and allow the employees to grasp the magnitude of the team that they are a part of.
Marissa Mayer should make her announcement to revoke telecommunication privileges at this meeting. Delivering this news this way may cause people to stir in their seats, but it would be direct. Her actual delivery that occurred in late February was cowardly and impersonal to the hundreds of people’s lives that were being affected. Myer’s need to keep the announcement clear and concise always reminding people of the bigger goal that is attempting to be accomplished—the successful revamp of Yahoo!.
Our secondary solution would be to change the atmosphere at the offices to encourage people to want to come to work. Other companies in the industry use tools, such as yoga, video games, indoor pools, etc. to lure their workforce into the office. I once had a client that had an in-house cafeteria with free food, Apple computers and ping pong to encourage their sales force to report to the office when not in the field. This has shown to be an effective tool. I believe Myer’s should have first introduced these perks before deciding to make in office work mandatory.
If these offerings did not display the results that she desired, it would be an appropriate time to revoke telecommuting privileges. However, the delivery of this news would still need to be properly managed, such as in solution one. Solution three stems off of solution two by expanding further and maintaining a gym facility on-site. Research has found that not only does allowing employees to telecommute save the business money, but it also saves the individual. A major complaint that these former telecommuters will have is the added time and expense of driving to work each day.
By putting a gym on premises, it will make people feel that their commuting time is worthwhile by allowing them to kill two birds with one stone, so to speak. Reflection We now have a deeper appreciation for the various aspects of the work from home culture. Most in the team feel that they will be able to work remote in the future as this assignment is full of reasons to validate this decision. Academically we were able to connect leadership and change concepts that we learned during class to our analysis and solutions.
Professionally we will benefit from the work environment, work design and telecommuting research if applied during our everyday workplace situations. From a managerial learning perspective we can use the ideas put forth in this project to mold our future teams. Certainly we will come to point in our careers where we will be faced with productivity and collaboration issue spawning from work design. References Bloom, N. , Liang, J. , Roberts, J. , & Zhichun, J. Y. (2013). Does Working From Home Work? Stanford: Stanford. Buhler, P. (2012). Human Resource Management. Adams Media. Katcher, B. L. & Snyder, A. (2010). An Insider’s Guider to Building a Successful Consulting Practice. AMACOM. Schermerhorn, Jr. , J. R. , Osborn, R. N. , Uhi-Bien, M. , & Hunt, J. G. (2012). Organizational Behavior 12th Edition. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Schmidt, E. , & Varian, H. (2005, December 2). Google: Ten Golden Rules. Newsweek. Smith, S. , & Mazin, R. (2011). The HR Answer Book: An Indespensable Guide for Managers and Humna Resources Professionals. AMACOM. Yahoo! (2013). News Center. Retrieved 03 11, 2013, from Yahoo! : http://pressroom. Yahoo!. net/pr/ycorp/overview. aspx