Compulsory Attendance & Yahoo

Yahoo_Creativity_Talent_MarketingYahoo is apparently on the sale block. According to many media reports their board announced last week that they were exploring “strategic alternatives” or as many have indicated, code for a sale.

Yahoo CEO, Marissa Mayer’s come-to-work order in 2013 ended a previous work-from-home policy that by all indications had a largely negative impact on morale. Mayer’s rationale at the time was “It’s not what’s right for Yahoo right now.”


I would argue that if you want the best talent in the industry, especially that requires creativity, you have to prioritize what’s best for your clients and employees first.

Clients today need us to work efficiently in an era of transcontinental teams and multiple time zones. According to most published human resource studies, employees today are concerned most with location, commute, flexibility and work/life balance right alongside salary and benefits.

Messing with key priorities of employees in a such a big way, like eliminating the option to work from home, is obviously going to wreak havoc on a company’s culture and morale. It does not communicate trust and empowerment, key attributes of any healthy organization. Working virtually should not be considered a variable employee benefit, but the very definition of the corporate culture itself.

 CMA is a human resources consulting firm in St. Louis. Dana Borchert, a CMA Ph.D. licensed psychologist and job candidate assessment analyzer says,  “There are some traits that are hard-wired and impacted by motivational factors. Research from classic studies as far back as the 1970’s from both Kyrter and Glass and Singer have both indicated that people have less stress and perform better when they feel they have control over their environment. Especially for employees who’ve had autonomy and independence, sudden restrictions can be extremely demotivating. It’s is likely that the combination of characteristics and motivators that made an employee successful when working out of the office could make it difficult for them to re-enter.”

GMG uses CMA’s proprietary assessment to screen team members that looks for potential derailers, including candidates that struggle to organize their own approach, lack initiative or require a great deal of guidance. In addition, cognitive capability is important to consider, as candidates will need to make decisions independently.

We have found over the last three years that dispersed workforces, or 100% virtual business models, have benefits well beyond the growing trend of more common options like telework (some employees work remotely all of the time), flextime (working non-traditional hours) and a Results Only Work Environment (ROWE) (working virtually within an established corporation)–Yahoo’s previous model.

GMG’s team is still small, currently at 12, but we intend to stay a dispersed workforce as we continue to grow.

We have found that there is less time wasted at work and maximum flexibility. We save on overhead costs that can then be invested back into employee salaries and high-level training. The value to our clients is in the work, not the space we create it in.

Aligning job candidates with a virtual company’s culture and values can be a challenge, but with a committed and conscientious leader can be achieved. A primarily virtual culture works best, like anything else, when its leader fully embraces the concept, has clarity, communicates well to the team and is willing to do what it takes to overcome the approaches’ challenges.

As Yahoo faces potential suitors for a sale, it would be tough to make the case that the 2013 decision to end the virtual work policy was a profitable one.