You just had a feeling about this one; there are certain stories that stimulate discussion throughout our professional and personal lives and create “sides” far beyond the topic at hand. Thank you, Marissa Mayer, may future case studies in the Harvard Business Review recognize your courage.

Like Lee Iacocca and Jack Welch, Mrs. Mayer has been given the reigns of a company that has reached a dreaded (and often unnoticeable) stage in its life cycle ~ the “Age of Entitlement.” The days of “hunger” long past, Yahoo! has followed the natural course of any successful company, the result of which is a steady and numbing foray into obsolescence.

If there were any doubts about the identity of the new sheriff in town, Mayer announced her arrival to every employee with the removal of Flexible Work Arrangements. Why? Here’s a partial list provided by unnamed sources, compliments of ~ it should be noted many of these opinions were voiced by former Yahoo! employees:

  • Yahoo has a huge number of people of who work remotely – people who just never come in.
  • Many of these people “weren’t productive,” says this source.
  • A lot of people hid. There were all these employees [working remotely] and nobody knew they were still at Yahoo.”
  • These people aren’t just Yahoo customer support reps. They’re in all divisions, from marketing to engineering.
  • Mayer is happy to give Yahoo employees standard Silicon Valley benefits like free food and free smartphones. But our source says the kinds of work-from-home arrangements popular at Yahoo were not common to other Valley companies like Google, et al. “This is a collaborative businesses.”
  • Mayer saw another side-benefit to making this move. She knows that some remote workers won’t want to start coming into the office and so they will quit. That helps Yahoo, which needs to cut costs. It’s a layoff that’s not a layoff.
  • Bigger picture: This is about Mayer “carefully getting to problems created by Yahoo’s huge, bloated infrastructure.” The company got fat and lazy over the past 15 years, and this is Mayer getting it into fighting shape


    “My prediction?….Pain!”

The last bullet is really symbolic of the entire decision; this is a fight, and Mayer recognizes that fact ~ as Mickey does in Rocky III, Mayer (like the great Burgess Meredith) realizes that Clubber Lang will decapitate a fat & uninspired champion unless a very swift and meaningful injection of passion is added to the equation. And I pity the fool that doesn’t jump in the ring with her.

John “Whit” Whitaker is Founder of the HR Hardball™ movement

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