News Column

Yahoo Telecommuting Ban Unnecessary and Regressive

March 7, 2013

Memo to Melissa Mayer @Yahoo:

Your new telecommuting ban is a setback for working moms. It will only sow resentment, not innovation.

Recently, Mayer announced that starting in June, all of Yahoo's workers will be required to work in the office. Her edict set off a firestorm of criticism and a long overdue debate about the benefits of working from home.

I'm worried that Yahoo's prominent decision will encourage other companies to follow suit. That would not be good for working parents, who depend on flexible arrangements to try to keep work and parenting in balance.

As a working mom and longtime teleworker, I'm offended at the suggestion that I and other parents who've found some semblance of balance in our work lives are less innovative or creative.

From the moment Mother Nature blessed me and my husband with twins, I've been innovating like crazy, trying to keep it all together.

That's why it's so galling to hear Mayer, whose salary the New York Times estimates will exceed $117 million in the next five years, scolding telecommuters for shirking their corporate duties. Mayer recently gave birth to her first child, and was at work back after two weeks; she had a nursery installed next to her office.

According to Bureau of Labor statistics, one in four U.S. workers logs in some time from home, though I understand that companies like Yahoo depend on some amount of face-to-face interaction to make that corporate magic happen.And Yahoo is struggling - hence the desperate effort to call in the troops. Of course, it's a good idea to make sure all workers (remote or in the office) are meeting their goals and contributing to the effort.

But an industry leader like Yahoo should be able to harness technology to keep its people connected. A blanket decision like the one the company just handed down prioritizes corporate culture while denigrating the need for family-friendly policies.

Ms. Mayer, I'm glad I don't work for you. And if you're wondering, I wrote this in my pajamas.



Catherine Capellaro is a writer for Progressive Media Project, a source of liberal commentary on domestic and international issues; it is affiliated with The Progressive magazine. Readers may write to the author at: Progressive Media Project, 409 East Main Street, Madison, Wis. 53703; email:; Web site: For information on PMP's funding, please visit

This article was prepared for The Progressive Media Project and is available to MCT subscribers. McClatchy-Tribune did not subsidize the writing of this column; the opinions are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of McClatchy-Tribune or its editors.

Source: (c) 2013, Catherine Capellaro Distributed by MCT Information Services

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