Why I’m So Disappointed in Yahoo!’s Latest News

working from homeAfter a miscarriage, a high-risk pregnancy, seven weeks of bed rest, a premature baby, and four months of maternity leave, I was back to work at my corporate finance job at a big name Boston financial services firm.  It was January, and I’d been gone since July, but somehow I managed to get an even better job while I was out.  I was eager to start this new chapter, but nervous too.  Despite the fact that we’d chosen a good daycare for my baby daughter, I was worried – worried that I’d miss her, that she wouldn’t be happy, that she belonged home with me.  There were also logistical concerns.  I had over an hour commute on public transportation, and I wasn’t sure I could get my work during the workday while still dropping her off and picking her up on time.

Two weeks later, I was exasperated, and was giving up.   We’d already had a snowstorm, and daycare was closed, requiring me to miss work.  I also felt like I was working a half day, yet my daughter was usually the first one in and the last one out.  I also had to take breaks during the day to pump breast milk.  I couldn’t do it, so I decided to quit.

I went in to see my boss, a tough but fair manager who liked me.  I felt awful – they saved this incredible job for me and I was leaving two weeks in.  I told him about the problems I was having, and that I needed to quit.

“Can we talk about solutions?” he asked.

I was shocked, but open minded.  He proceeded to tell me that his wife worked from home for many years and that it worked for them.  He was willing to try it for me.  I’d be just a few miles from my daughter’s daycare and could pop in at lunch.  Since I wouldn’t have to commute, I’d save over two hours per day.  But there were some rules.  I couldn’t do any housework during the day.  My daughter had to have appropriate childcare.  I also had to have a dedicated phone line that work would pay for, and I would need to forward my work phone.  That way, no one would feel awkward about calling me at home.  It was to be a three-month trial, and I had to check in with him every morning I worked from home (a benefit actually, because I often needed to talk to him and he was usually very busy during the day.)  I would work three days from home and two in the office.

I tried it and it worked.  That arrangement worked for me through three different managers and another pregnancy.  I stayed for over three years, until my job moved to a different state and I decided to take a severance package.  I even got promoted during that time.

That’s why I’m so disappointed to hear Yahoo!’s latest news – they are no longer allowing employees to work from home.  Working from home CAN work, if you set appropriate boundaries.  I was probably even more effective from home because there was no water cooler, no coffee breaks across the street to Starbucks.  It helped me keep my career for three additional years, and allowed my employer to retain a long-time employee.  I really hope this isn’t the direction other companies take, because it’s the wrong direction.

 

Comments

    • Jodi Grundig says

      It’s really sad, because although working at home isn’t for everyone, it’s a shame to eliminate it for every employee.

  1. Scotty says

    My last corporate job ended when I was pregnant with my oldest daughter. Before I left for maternity leave, I went to my boss and asked a simple question: How many of our company’s employees worked from home? I knew that we had several bureaus out of state where a single employee represented the company, and usually worked from a home office. I was quickly told that there was absolutely no way I could work from home, ever. I was stunned. I hadn’t asked to work from home, I just wanted to know the company’s policy. Ironically, my industry and company (journalism) have made a long, painful slide into employing people who work from home as they continue to cut costs and staff, so having remote workers and freelancers makes more financial sense. I do find it ironic that Yahoo!, being in the news and information business, is bucking this trend with its new policy. At the very least, I have to give them credit for investing in an office and culture infrastructure while so many other information companies have abandoned it due to cost. But on the other hand, the work/life balance that working at home creates often also attracts very smart, capable, hard working people, so it does seem a severe policy.

    • Jodi Grundig says

      I agree – it shouldn’t be an “all or nothing” situation. I did enjoy going to the office twice a week, but I simply couldn’t have done it five days a week.

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