Ms Mayer’s move is not just a bad idea in itself but also a nail in the coffin of the naive notion that women with big jobs help their sisters up the ladder. Her plan will knock out a few rungs. Flexible employers help women run families and jobs simultaneously. Rigid working practices make combining the two impossible or unpleasant. To be fair, as somebody who took two weeks off to have a baby, Ms Mayer is hardly asking others to do what she would not; but then she has dulled the pain of separation from her child by installing a nursery next to her office. Yahoo’s less privileged and less Stakhanovite women may well hoof it to a friendlier organisation.
But this is not just about women. A well-managed company’s workers want to be productive, and managers trust them to decide how and where they will perform best. If that’s not happening, the boss needs to find out why. You can shackle a Yahoo to his desk, but you can’t make him feel the buzz.
[A lot of folks ask what I think about this since I run a remote team with folks in 3 countries. And the short answer is if folks aren’t motivated to work you need to fix that, and not place rings around how they do what they do. Solid piece.]