Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer is the ultimate cool calculating corporate animal: Two weeks' worth of maternity leave, a nursery adjacent to her office (how soothing for baby!), and now she's banned telecommuting at Yahoo! While she might have the luxury of making such an arrangement somehow workable, she's thoroughly out of touch with the majority of her employees. Many dedicated workers rely on telecommuting for its family-friendly benefits: No commute, so you can make those unreasonable 5:30 daycare pickups on time. No one hovering over your desk, so maybe you can pop out at lunchtime to visit your kid at the playground or watch the school play without the questioning looks from your colleagues. With her draconian, snobbish decree, she's robbed women and men of their freedom. I thought it'd be informative to check out this popular article about the Top Five Regrets of the Dying, written by a palliative care nurse, and compare it against Mayer's philosophy.
1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
"This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it."
Mayer is automatically asking people to either jump on the Yahoo! one-size-fits-all ship instead of being true to themselves. Employees who don't want to be in the office 40 hours per week should consider looking elsewhere for work. So much for people who might have fought hard for flexible work-life balance.
2. I wish I hadn't worked so hard.
"This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children's youth and their partner's companionship. Women also spoke of this regret, but as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence."
This speaks for itself. Work is not going to care for you when you get old, visit you in your nursing home, or take you out for Tuesday night bingo.
3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.
"Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result."
Is Mayer encouraging a dialogue about the benefits of working from home? No. She's simply banning it across the board, stifling the creativity, autonomy, and voices of her underlings.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
"Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying."
Who has time to stay in touch with friends when work is supposed to be first and foremost?
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
"This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called 'comfort' of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content, when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again."
Hopefully Yahoo!'s employees can financially afford to figure out what makes them happy and, if this policy doesn't fit their lifestyle, they can find a company that appreciates how multi-dimensional workers actually enhance, not diminish, a workplace.
Not everyone lives to work, as Mayer clearly does. She's a one-dimensional anti-role model for men and women. I'm sure she makes lots of money and has plenty of power. But, in my opinion, she doesn't have a very full life.
Updated to add: A large part of being a successful CEO, especially one at a company whose reputation is already foundering, is savvy PR. It's also about not polarizing your employees. Mayer has stumbled on both counts.
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