In my opinion, her actions are clear indication of a bad management. I'm not going to say that working from home is better than working from office. Apparently, it depends on the culture, business model, actual work a person is doing and many more factors. My issue is not with the policy itself, but rather with the way it was imposed. It was an attempt to fix a problem with no effort or ability to understand the problem. It's like instead of fixing a leaking toilet one moves to a new house just because it's too hard to deal with a plumber.
One might argue that moving to a new house is the only right decision at times. It's possible, but fully depends on the house. Let's look at what Marissa has done.
It's clear that Yahoo is trying to optimize expenditures by making people work harder and pushing slackers out, so the same output could be achieved at a lower cost. Quite rational and reasonable idea.
The problem is that instead of choosing whom the company wants out, Yahoo lets employees decide whether they want to find a new friendlier environment elsewhere or stay. While it seems that hardworking people are less likely to leave because they're not afraid of work, the reality is different.
With few exceptions, every employee needs a job. Most of them have bills up to their eyeballs and would not survive long without a paycheck. So, typically an employee doesn't just quit his current job. Instead, he gets a new one before he gives his 2 weeks notice. A quality employee is more likely to stand out during interview process and thus more likely to find a new quality job. With job offer in hand he gets to choose what he wants to do, while the only option for an average employee is to stay since he failed to find an alternative. That's especially valid in the current IT job market.
Once the company shrinks below certain size it starts searching for new talents to replace those, who's left. Guess what happens? Quality candidates are more likely to receive more than one quality job offer and thus more likely to reject an average company's offer.
It's still possible for an average company to attract quality candidates. It can be achieved with higher compensation level.
With that said, I see Yahoo risking to choose between 2 options:
- Lose its better part and lower its employee quality. Quality employee is the one to produce more with higher quality than an average employee. Thus the cost of output bumps up with employee quality going down.
- Replace quality employees that left with more expensive ones to maintain the same level. Obviously, the cost of output goes up in this case as it comprises of employee salaries.
As you can see, in both cases Yahoo is facing to have higher costs for the same work in the near future.
In order to do it right, the company has to find a way to keep quality employees while pushing average ones out. The hardest part is to properly evaluate each and one of them. An employee quality has to be measured by the amount and quality of output he generates. The problem is, that it requires considerably more work on the management side to understand what each employee brings to the company. Without such an effort all employees look the same from CEO level. At the same time, imposing restrictive policies requires no effort whatsoever. Not even an effort to put the announcement letter together as it can be done by an assistant. Why do more if you can do less?
Sadly enough, until CEOs are required to have their income based entirely on the company's stock price, we're not going to see much change in their management style...