Last week the New York Times reported that Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo, ended the company‘s work-at-home policy. That article spawned an eruption of response declaring her draconian and creating an environment that is hostile to working parents.
According to the Wall Street Journal some, including Donald Trump, are cheering Mayer’s move as bringing the employees closer together. I blanch to find myself even close to the same camp as Donald Trump but when you have a company that as the Times says is on its “deathbed” drastic actions might be in order.
While eliminating all ability to work-from home might appear to be overkill, I doubt we know the full picture. My experience in HR tells me there is probably much more to the story beyond productivity and collaboration.
All of the complications of Yahoo aside, is a work-from-home policy the savior of working moms?
The moms I work with are high-achievers.
They aren’t working to make a living they are working to make a difference.
They want to influence not only their careers but the industries and organizations in which they work.
While they make take calls from home, they aren’t looking to work from home. They are looking for flexibility and autonomy.
It is the same issue with part-time work. Working moms reflexively think going part-time would relieve the burden of balancing work and family. While I am not fully against part-time work, “the pink ghetto” rarely offers the financial rewards and true flexibility working moms are looking for.
How often does your kid get sick on your day off? It would be convenient but let’s be real - motherhood is a lot of things but I have never heard it described as convenient.
So who is going to save working moms? Stacey Delo of Maybrooks.com, an online resource where moms can find jobs and connect with like-minded women, wrote a compelling article about the need for companies to shift the way they approach women with young children in the workplace. Ultimately, it is our responsibility to make our needs known. We have to make the need for flexibility a problem that has to be addressed.
But first you have to be clear about the type of career you want, most women aren’t looking strictly for flexibility. We want careers that are flexible, fulfilling and financially rewarding.
It is not likely that you will find that package of goodness from a position where you work from your dining room table. Hell, I have the ultimate work-from-home career and I find myself in an office at least twice a week.
You want a career filled with flexibility than you have to sell flexibility. Yep, sell it. You know we all buy from people we know, like and trust. It is the same for flexible work arrangements. When your boss knows, likes and trusts you she won’t care when and where you are doing your work.
How can you sell your company on the flexibility you need without sacrificing pay and interesting work? Follow the first rule of selling by making sure your company knows, likes and trusts.
You have to understand your own value and expertise. Take time to figure out the value of what you bring to the organization and then make sure your company knows your value.
Your boss and her boss need to know your name, your accomplishments and your value. In other words, you have to be visible.
If you want flexibility, your job is to let people know exactly what you do that adds to the bottom line of your organization. I love the view Vivia Chen of The Careerist has on the valuable political capital that visibility brings. You can read her article, Three Reasons You Shouldn’t Work from Home.
You have to instill trust that you will do what you say you will do. Your real job is to make sure your boss doesn’t need to manage you. This means that you have to demonstrate your impact by anticipating the needs of your clients and your organization.
Build the trust and confidence that you are the best person to manage your role. This doesn’t mean being a slave to your desk. Trust and confidence come from learning how to manage and motivate teams as well as delegating appropriately in order to deliver the best results time and again.
Now this gets tricky but when I say your organization needs to like you, I don’t mean “she’s so nice and fun we really like having her around.” This has nothing to do with being likable.
What they need to like is your results. They like that you make their jobs easier. They have experienced your ability to promote or achieve a goal with little or no effort from them. People can’t help but like people that help them and make them look good.
How can you determine the best way to be ‘liked”? Figure out what is in for them and provide it.
If you keep delivering what is in it for them, you will create a platform to ask for the flexibility and the pay you want.
All of this supposes that you are doing what you like to do, at a company in which you like to do it. This might ultimately be Ms. Mayer’s goal. She might be asking everyone if they are ready to do what it takes to save Yahoo. And if they can save Yahoo they will have a job to go to.