Yahoo's Telecommuting Ban Hurts Moms -- SO WHAT!!!

Rant 21

working at homeSince news broke that Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has banned telecommuting for its employees, the uproar has been dominated almost entirely by one voice: the moms. How dare Mayer, a mother of a small baby, cut working moms off at the knees like this, we've asked. Over. And over. And over again.

It's a valid argument, but Moms, as much as you're going to hate hearing this, it's not the one that we need to be making against the shortsightedness of companies like Yahoo that would think to cut work at home options. Marissa Mayer's new plan isn't just bad for the parents on staff. It's bad for the American economy.

That's the message we need to be screaming at the tops of our lungs.

I say this both as a mother and as a woman who has worked entirely from home for the past three years. I'm lucky that my employer puts value on my contribution to the workplace, but I have come to realize that America, by and large, does not.

If we cared about helping mothers find work/life balance, we would have the sort of maternity leaves of other first world countries. We would not have mothers fighting for their federally-protected rights to pump their breast milk at the office. Women would not make 77 cents for every dollar made by their male counterparts.

The argument for women, for mothers, is not enough to combat Yahoo's ridiculous new policy, not enough to convince other companies from going the same route.

More From The Stir: Yahoo's 'No Work From Home' Policy Really Riles Us Working Moms Up (VIDEO)

Thank goodness it's not the only one.

Telecommuting is good for businesses. According to some estimates, companies stand to save as much as $11,000 per work-at-home person per year. Think about it. They're not supplying a desk for that person. Not heating an office space. Not supplying coffee.

Telecommuting is likewise good for employees. Cutting out commuting alone can save a worker anywhere from $2,000 to $7,000 a year. That's money that can be spent in other ways to fuel the economy.

And since we brought up fuel, it might as well be noted that telecommuting has a major impact on the environment. When technology company Cisco ran the numbers on its employees who work at home in 2007, they found that in one year their telecommuters stopped 47,320 metric tons of greenhouse gases from being released and saved $10.3 million in fuel costs. That's one company in one year!

What's more, technology has opened up a world of opportunity for people who live in rural communities. Telecommuting allows companies access to the brilliant minds living in the small towns of America. It provides jobs for people in depressed rural economies where the options for work are slim at best, more often completely non-existent. This isn't just supposition. I know it's true -- I am one of those Americans telecommuting from a small town. A physical commute would be impossible, but the wonders of the Internet allow me to make a living wage to support my family.

Am I fortunate to have found a company that can see the value in giving moms the flexibility they need to be good parents and good workers both? Absolutely. My workplace is one that could easily be used as a model for other companies as they embrace the technology we are so lucky to have.

But let's be honest, it's going to take a lot more than "it's good for moms" to convince most American businesses that telecommuting is worth fighting for.

So how about we stop kvetching about the mom who wouldn't show her pregnant belly on the cover of Fortune and start hitting the Marissa Mayers of the world where it really hurts?

As President Bill Clinton once said, it's "the economy, stupid."

What do you think of Marissa Mayer's new rule for Yahoo employees?


Image via tsuacctnt/Flickr

corporations, economy


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Zenia6 Zenia6

"Telecommuting is good for businesses."  What a novel idea ;) Glad to read a perspective that maybe there is more to this issue than "entitled" women wanting to work from home in thier pjs and how they should suck it up & be happy for the job.

Rhond... RhondaVeggie

A large company like Yahoo going under would be bad for the economy and that is what will happen if they don't get things straight. Telecommuting only works in jobs where the employee is wholly independent, usually very simple things like conducting surveys. If you expect your employees to have good ideas they need to bounce off each other. Having employees at home to save money on the coffee bill is ridiculously short sighted. Most companies don't save anything on real estate or heating because the vast majority of employees telecommute no more than a couple of days a week and still need an office.

Iris0409 Iris0409

AMEN. It's sickening me to read the comments on these articles disparaging anyone who would DARE question the status quo of having to commute into an office. No one is claiming that telecommuting is some inalienable right or done because people want to be lazy - get off your high horses, people! It's a solid, provable fact that telecommuting helps families (less gas, less commute time, more time with family, happier, more productive, etc.) and helps businesses attract and keep quality employees. Why is the world banned from even talking about it without being accused of being "ungrateful for having a job" or "lazy and wanting to stay in your jammies all day" - that kind of attitude is how progress NEVER GETS MADE.

Iris0409 Iris0409

Oh, and I telecommute full time, as does most of my company. We spend a great deal of time on Skype - bouncing ideas off each other and collaborating. It's no different than all being in the same space except we're all happier and have a better work-life balance than we would if we had to commute in to a shared office building. And no, we don't conduct surveys - lol - we build software.

lulou lulou

RhondaVeggie, so you are not sharing your ideas on this subject by your post?

truth... truthrowan

Wow, an article by Ms. Sager I actually agree with and like. Well done. But it comes down to companies not valuing employees, so they don't care about the actual numbers and statistics. it's about control. And Rhonda, with current technology, Skype, video chat, not to mention constantly being plugged in by messangers, it's easier to stay connected and bounce Ideas off people, you don't have to be there physically.


Shandi80 Shandi80

How do you propose we "hit Marissa Meyer where it hurts"? Stop reading Yahoo! and close down our e-mail accounts? I understand where you guys are coming from on this, but let's face it: the new Yahoo! homepage stinks. Their privacy settings on their email are always changing (much like Facebook) and not notifying us that our profiles are now public. Their news articles are completely slanted, and they're not even trying to hide it anymore. I could go on, Yahoo!, as far as I'm concerned is already long gonnnnne from it's more glorious days as one of my personal favorite homepages. Their messenger is obsolete with all of our social networking options. I think this move on their part was to save their company from completely going under - by downsizing, like so many other companies are doing.

Lastly, by "hitting a company where it hurts", what are we actually doing, other than creating a more divisive state for humanity? If anything we should be leveling with each, understanding that not everyone is going agree with us, and we're not going to agree with everything other people think, and that is OK.  This is what makes us individuals. I don't want to be a programmed robot in a sea of like-minded programmed robots surviving and living how others SAY I should live. Do you?



nonmember avatar kaerae

I disagree. This is clearly a self-interest issue for you. Telecommuting hurts kids and businesses. It's not your boss' job to help you find balance. Find it yourself or don't have kids.

lulou lulou

I think they are inevitably doing this to themselves.  It would be a much bolder statement if they (as an internet company) could show off itself as a leader with cutting edge effective use of digital media in a remote workforce.  Instead I have to wonder if they will also start sending me updates by disk in the mail, and have their new logo designed by that Florida business team.

Tangl... TangledBlue

I'm sorry but Rhonda you don't know what you are talking about.  I work from home as the operations manager for a large global company, I manage 5 locations in a state 1000 miles away from me.  And there is nothing "simple" about my job.  My employer decided to expand their range of candidates for my position when two hires in a row left due to the demands of the job-they thought if they found someone who could work from home with a flexible schedule that might offset the long hours and high stress and they were right.  They not only save money on coffee, they save due to lower attrition rates, less training costs, reduction in equipment costs (they no longer have to buy massive copiers for usage by 150+ people for example), and so on.  That being said, while I do wish corporate America would see the endless benefits in providing a greater work-life balance, Yahoo is a failing company that has every right to make whatever decisions they believe will get them on the right track, I think they're making a mistake but it's theirs to make! 

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