Yahoo to Remote Employees: Get Your Butts in the Office

by Frank Roche on February 26, 2013

in Communication, Management

February 26, 2013

Ms. Jacqueline D. Reses
Executive Vice President of People and Development
Yahoo! Inc.
701 First Avenue
Sunnyvale, CA 94089

Dear Ms. Reses,

You should have have called me. I know you’re probably cringing right thinking about all the titters you heard when you sent a letter ending work-from-home by saying, “Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home. We need to be one Yahoo!, and that starts with physically being together.”

I would have helped you write a letter that didn’t include the words “physically being together.” I mean, there’s teambuilding, and then there’s teambuilding.

What you meant to say was, “We want butts in seats. If we don’t see you do something it didn’t happen. Get outta your pajamas, get into the office, and start singing kumbaya.”

I get that CEO Marissa Mayer likes office time. She came back to the office just a week after having her baby. Some might say that’s admirable, while others might say that’s strange. But I get it: Your boss likes to be in the office. And she wants everyone in the office or they’re fired.

What I would have helped you with is to have the strength to push back on the idea. To recognize that your employees have Twitter accounts. That executive decrees don’t work when there are so many voices out there. And to hear the scary message that David Heinemeier-Hansson at 37signals points out about the idea:

What this reveals more than anything is that Yahoo management doesn’t have a clue as to who’s actually productive and who’s not. In their blindness they’re reaching for the lowest form of control a manager can assert: Ensuring butts in seats for eight hours between 9-5+. Though while they can make people come to the office under the threat of termination, they most certainly cannot make those same people motivated to do great work.

Now what? If you’re tempted to send a follow-up letter to the “Physically Being Together” one, I’d be glad to edit it for you. Remotely.


Frank Roche


Letter from Yahoo CHRO Jackie Reses Ending Work-from-Home


Over the past few months, we have introduced a number of great benefits and tools to make us more productive, efficient and fun. With the introduction of initiatives like FYI, Goals and PB&J, we want everyone to participate in our culture and contribute to the positive momentum. From Sunnyvale to Santa Monica, Bangalore to Beijing — I think we can all feel the energy and buzz in our offices.

To become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side. That is why it is critical that we are all present in our offices. Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings. Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home. We need to be one Yahoo!, and that starts with physically being together.

Beginning in June, we’re asking all employees with work-from-home arrangements to work in Yahoo! offices. If this impacts you, your management has already been in touch with next steps. And, for the rest of us who occasionally have to stay home for the cable guy, please use your best judgment in the spirit of collaboration. Being a Yahoo isn’t just about your day-to-day job, it is about the interactions and experiences that are only possible in our offices.

Thanks to all of you, we’ve already made remarkable progress as a company — and the best is yet to come.


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