Yahoo telecommuting ban draws debate from Oklahoma professionals

Some Oklahoma professionals said they understand Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer's ban on telecommuting, though many said the arrangement works well for their workplaces.
by Paula Burkes Modified: February 26, 2013 at 8:18 pm •  Published: February 27, 2013

Said marketer Leslie Spears, “I think when your company goes from $400-plus a share to $20 a share it's time to get down to business. Employee perks are not working for their bottom line.”

Tulsa recruiter Tony Wolters and Oklahoma City business consultant Bill Bendure agree.

“My take is she's found a way to thin the ranks, as the company is not doing all so well,” Wolters said. “We'll see how this plays out and if other CEOs will follow. I would not be surprised.”

Bendure said Yahoo may have had abuse of the policy or problems with telecommunications.

“Most of my business clients have not succeeded at telecommuting for these reasons,” Bendure said. “There's often resentment by office workers leading to other conflicts and breakdown in relationships and team.”

Leaders at Principal Technologies, a staffing firm for information technology, accounting and engineering professions, share opposing views. Recruiter Rebecca Hartwig feels flex time should be earned, while sales Vice President Bobbi Bailey believes telecommuting is a positive perk for sales professionals.

“It works in positions with measurable definitive results,” Bailey said.

Oklahoma City human resources expert Gayla Sherry understands Mayer's points about collaboration, but worries about longer-term recruiting issues.

“Yahoo may have difficulty recruiting younger workers, and especially the creative ones that Yahoo needs,” Sherry said. “Creative workers don't always follow an 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. routine, nor do they necessarily like the structure and confines of an office environment.”

This, er, older telecommuting business writer agrees. I heard Monday's news at work, while on an elliptical machine at the YMCA, and gathered feedback Tuesday from home, including when my 11-year-old daughter got off the bus, walked in and pronounced:

“I yelled bloody murder in Social Studies today.”

“Why?” I asked.

“Jasmine came up from behind me.”

Me: “Did you get in trouble with the teacher?”

She: “No.”

It's the work/life balance, i.e., life's small pleasures, that I, at least, demand.

by Michael Baldwin
Mike Baldwin has been a sports reporter for The Oklahoman since 1982. Mike graduated from Okmulgee High School in 1974 and attended Oklahoma Christian University, graduating with a journalism degree in 1978. Mike's first job was sports editor...
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