Ben Woodhead Deputy editor - digital

Ben Woodhead is deputy editor - digital at the Financial Review Group. He writes on business, technology, politics and the economy and can be found on BRW, The Australian Financial Review and Smart Investor.

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‘Cultural change for a broken company’: why Marissa Mayer was right to ban work from home

Published 05 March 2013 07:02, Updated 17 April 2013 11:56

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‘Cultural change for a broken company’: why Marissa Mayer was right to ban work from home

A supporter of Yahoo! boss Marissa Mayer’s decision to ban working from home says it was a good call because she can’t fix the company’s broken culture if its workers aren’t in the office. Photo: Reuters

Yahoo! boss and new mum Marissa Mayer has caught a lot of heat for her decision last month to ban working from home.

Mayer made the call after she scoured the logs for Yahoo!’s virtual private network (VPN), which allows people to work remotely, and found a pattern of people slacking off.

Nevertheless, critics piled on, accusing her of taking away worker perks and showing a lack of compassion for mothers in the work force. But recruiter and LaSalle Network CEO Tom Gimbel says this is off base.

Speaking to Business Insider, Gimbel says Mayer was absolutely right to pull workers back into the office because she needs to create a new culture in the workplace to turn the ailing Yahoo!’s fortunes around.

“[Critics are] viewing this as a jobs issue, that somehow Marissa believes that working remotely is bad,” Gimbel tells BI. “What this is is a corporate turnaround and a culture change for a broken company.”

He continues: “If she had gone into Yahoo! and they were the leader instead of the bottom of the category, it wouldn’t be an issue ... It’s an issue because Yahoo!’s been a laggard for a long time and needs a cultural shift.”

Highly-motivated and productive people are a hallmark of a strong workplace culture so a pattern of abuse in working from home would appear to support the idea that Yahoo!’s culture needs fixing.