Yahoo!: ‘Get to Work! CASE FOR ANALYSIS High-tech within the corporate world

Yahoo!: ‘Get to Work! CASE FOR ANALYSIS
High-tech within the corporate world was developed, in part, on the notion of mobile strategy and convenience—the ability to communicate, work remotely and accomplishthe same results; cutting the corporate and personal car-bon footprint by reducing commute times; and reducing wasted time through workplace flexibility.Flex time was touted as a solution and an attractive perk for job seekers, particularly in the tech industries. Workers were actually doing and modeling what they insisted was possible for future workers. Then, it changed. Suddenly, the brakes were applied. “Get to work” was what your mom said; what yourcoach said; what your teacher said. Suddenly, for Yahoo employees, it was what your boss said in a surprise memo from new CEO Marissa Mayer. Entrepreneur called it Mayer’s “dumbest move,” and it ignited a national debate over the concept of workplace bureaucracy versus flexibility. Created by Stanford grad students Jerry Yang andDavid Filo, and launched as Yahoo in 1994, the company grabbed the spotlight, riding the dot-com bubble to both an all-time high and an all-time low in tech stock pricing, rejecting an acquisition bid from Microsoft, and suffering through its largest layoff of employees (2,000) in 2012. In a five-year period, 2009–2014, Yahoo had six CEOs bringing constantly changing visions and executives to the company. In May 2013, Marissa Mayer came over from Goo-gle and immediately set off a fire-storm with the memo informing employees to get to work and announcing that Yahoo’s work-at-home policy had been overturned. Empty parking lots, offices, and cubicles would henceforth be teeming with employees.Seen by Mayer and a significant number of employeesas a boost for low morale, the move was criticized by others within the company and across industries as a slap in the face at the notion of flexibility and remote workforce productivity. The general target for the new corporate ruling appeared to be the 200 or so employees who had routinely abused the work-from-home privilege by doing things like starting their own businesses while no one was watching. But if remote productivity and collaboration won’t work within the tech industry, others pointed out, what is the message for other industries? Was this a high-profile example of a tech company shooting itself in the foot? Supporters of the change defended the move as a need for control in this particular company based on the constant directional changes at Yahoo, the low morale of employees, and the lack of face-time and collaboration needed to keep up with the innovations of rivals. The New York Times quoted one former Yahoo official as saying, “Inthe tech world it was such a bummer to say you worked for Yahoo.” The situation had gotten that bad. Mayer’s turnaround strategy required employee skin inthe game—getting employees into the office. The company responded to critics with one blanket statement about the change: “This isn’t a broad industry view about working from home. This is about what is right for Yahoo, right now.” The previous situation was viewed by Mayer as cultural self-strangulation. With no one in the building, and a revolving CEO door, projects slowed or were completely abandoned. Meanwhile, Facebook and other rivals were surging ahead, rolling out innovations, grabbing advertisers, and cornering the social media market while Yahoo hesitated. Mayer jumped in, revamping the recently acquiredFlickr, which had seemingly abandoned a potential leadership role in photo-sharing to rival Instagram. With new hires and a total redesign and update of Flickr, the move was heralded by Entrepreneur as Mayer’s smartest. In addition, the new CEO quickly replaced employee BlackBerrys with Android and iPhones, with corporate picking up the tab for monthly usage. With bodies now working on-site, and in an effort to create an atmosphere of meeting and collaboration, Mayer offered free food in the cafeteria and insisted on day-long Friday question/answer/planning meetings between senior executives and all employees. Yahoo must make up time and get up to speed within the industry quickly. Rivals are not waiting and some new ones doubtlessly lurk in the shadows. While some criticize what they see as Mayer’s infantilizing of employees and clamping down on others as she added an on-site nursery for her own child, others developed a wait and see attitude—not only within the walls of Yahoo, but nation-wide, as companies weigh the future of remote workforce cultures.