As predicted a few posts ago, one of the off-shoots of the now infamous Melissa Mayer decision is the division of opinion within Human Resources. Not surprising, since, A) We’re Human, and B) We’re (most of us) employees.

Identifying with employees, we can see the huge benefits of working from home; no more wasted commute time, more job satisfaction, more days working in boxer shorts, etc.

Identifying with Human Resources Taoism, we can see the huge benefits of allowing employees to work from home; better recruiting tool, higher engagement scores, higher retention scores, more days working in boxer shorts, etc.


“I am so freaking engaged.”

There is, however, another perspective that has not fully taken hold in the HR community ~ that of the boss. Melissa Mayer is the boss, and she’s not happy with the performance of her company. She tells the huge work-from-home employee population that the honeymoon is over, now it’s time to come back to the office and re-engage with the team at corporate. Those who choose not to do so will no longer have jobs.

Is that fair?

Second question, does it matter if it’s fair?

When a company is struggling, it often requires the not-too-subtle hand of a dictator to turn the tide. Mayer doesn’t want her “troops” scattered about as independent contributors while the enemy (that’s right, enemy) is fortifying the front line in their preparations to kick your a–.  Mayer’s own HR Chief is on board (smart career move), but the employees are annnnnngry. Popular opinion is to skewer the boss for trying to put the Genie back in the bottle; never have you seen so many studies re-hashed, all proclaiming the exponential benefits of telecommuting; HR chats are typically employee-centric, comparing this to a plant closure or even worse – a Jack Welch tactic, egads!

But here’s the straight dope ~ if the company was wildly succeeding its goals, this wouldn’t happen. As a matter of fact, Mayer probably wouldn’t have happened. But they aren’t, and she did.

For those in Human Resources who embrace this perspective, and at least consider its validity, you have taken a giant step toward business partnership.

John “Whit” Whitaker is Founder of the HR Hardball™ movement. For the record, I’m wearing Gabardine.

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