Marissa Mayer Was Right: What Bosses Really Think About Work-From-Home Arrangements
1. She'll lose all her best employees.
2. She's setting back all the progress we've made in work-life balance.
3. She's making a desperate attempt to fix a failing business.
Having worked with both sides of the equation as a former HR-executive-turned-career-coach, I had a completely different reaction. She is fixing a classic HR benefit mistake some companies make: Letting an employee perk become viewed as right.
Perks = IncentivesCompanies understand that they need to offer good compensation packages as a way to retain the best professional talent. So, they build incentive programs, a.k.a. benefit packages designed to attract top performers. Over the years, many of these perks become viewed as standard practice, causing employees to feel it is their right to have them. A lot of employees don't realize that companies are paying on average another 30 percent of their salaries in benefits and taxes associated with employing them. That number can be even higher if the company has a particularly big perk package. Furthermore, as a person advances in their career, their skill sets can get them even more perks. Unfortunately, many workers wrongly assume that once offered an incentive, they should be able to get that perk for the rest of their professional lives.
Law of Supply & DemandFast forward several years, and a worker with a great benefit package can suddenly find themselves working for a company in major financial trouble, like Yahoo. They can also get laid off, fired, or just plain realize that they hate the job they are in. In all of these cases, they might mistakenly assume that regardless of whether they stay or go to a new job, they always deserve the same perks. In their mind, they've earned them. What they aren't considering is whether or not their skill sets still warrant these perks? If you aren't in demand, the supply of jobs with equally good perks vanishes. It's a simple economic rule that many professionals fail to consider. Ask anyone who was assuming that they'd always make what they were making before the recession and they'll tell you the Law of Supply & Demand applies to employment.
Working From Home Isn't A RightGoing back to Mayer and her decision at Yahoo, she is changing policy as a way to fix the dysfunctional company she's responsible for turning around. She had some employees who were abusing the perk, and more importantly, given the company's financial situation, she could no longer afford to offer it. She had to eliminate the perk across the board and get people back to work. Will some talented people leave? Yes. Will some workers who are no longer valuable to the company stay and punch the clock while under-performing? Yes. However, Mayer and her management team will finally be able to see who's coming to work every day with the right attitude. They'll also be able to see who's bringing their A game and really wants to turn Yahoo around. The ones who don't will get sacked, opening up lots of new opportunities for the thousands of people out there who would love a job at Yahoo and won't mind going to the office every day to do their work. Mayer's decision to eliminate working from home is intended to help her do something that will be vital to turning around Yahoo -- create a new corporate culture with better employee engagement.
Want To Work From Home? Stop Thinking Like An EmployeeIf you want to work from home, then you need to stop seeing yourself as an employee and start seeing yourself for what you really are: a business-of-one. As a business owner, you can determine what kind of benefits package you want, also known as compensation for your services. Then, you can go out and market your business-of-one's unique value and find a company that will agree to your terms. If working from home is one of the elements of your package, you'll need to make a strong case for why buying from your business-of-one will make it worth letting you do so. It's that simple. Is it easy? No, but trust me, it can be done.
And that leads back to a final thought ...
Being An Employee Is A ChoiceWhen you choose to be an employee instead of a business-of-one, you are accepting a limited number of employment options. That is your choice. If you want something different and better than what you currently have, it is up to you to take full ownership of your business-of-one. I know that can be scary. Just as many businesses fail, many business-of-ones fail too. However, when we fail, we learn and grow. Ask any successful business owner if they failed along the way and they'll tell you it's what got them to where they are today. When you choose to be a business-of-one, you are choosing to create your own future. You are breaking free of The Golden Handcuff Effect. Yes, you will make mistakes, but you will also learn and grow ... and maybe even work from home while doing it.
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J.T. O'Donnell is a career and workplace expert who founded the top-ranked career advice site, CAREEREALISM.com. In 2009, she launched CareerHMO, the first on-line career care membership site which specializes in curing chronic career pain.
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