Gini Dietrich

Yahoo! Letter: Was Their Communications Team Consulted?

By: Gini Dietrich | February 25, 2013 | 
174

Yahoo Offices SignBy now, many of you have likely seen (and had some emotion about) the letter that was sent to Yahoo! employees regarding their new policy about no more remote work.

In my Facebook stream, emotions ran from: Marissa Mayer is setting back women 20 years or many defiling her use of “easy baby” because she has lots of help with her newborn to the company probably needs this last ditch effort and who cares?

As you well know, I’m a big advocate for not only women’s equality in the business world, but also working from home, having run my organization remotely a little more than a year.

That said, I don’t know why asking everyone to work from an office is setting women back nor do I think virtual workplaces work for every company.

Where I have a problem with this whole thing is the apparent lack of consulting their communications team before the letter went out from HR.

The Yahoo! Letter

Following is a copy of the letter (and, no, the irony of “DO NOT FORWARD” is not lost on me).

YAHOO! PROPRIETARY AND CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION — DO NOT FORWARD

Yahoos,

Over the past few months, we have introduced a number of great benefits and tools to make us more productive, efficient and fun. With the introduction of initiatives like FYI, Goals and PB&J, we want everyone to participate in our culture and contribute to the positive momentum. From Sunnyvale to Santa Monica, Bangalore to Beijing — I think we can all feel the energy and buzz in our offices.

To become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side. That is why it is critical that we are all present in our offices. Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings. Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home. We need to be one Yahoo!, and that starts with physically being together.

Beginning in June, we’re asking all employees with work-from-home arrangements to work in Yahoo! offices. If this impacts you, your management has already been in touch with next steps. And, for the rest of us who occasionally have to stay home for the cable guy, please use your best judgment in the spirit of collaboration. Being a Yahoo isn’t just about your day-to-day job, it is about the interactions and experiences that are only possible in our offices.

Thanks to all of you, we’ve already made remarkable progress as a company — and the best is yet to come.

Jackie

Jackie, by-the-way, is Jacqueline Reses, the head of human resources.

Business Calls for Tough Decisions

There are lots and lots of reasons a top executive would make this kind of decision:

  • Productivity could be down…way down
  • They could be in the middle of saving the company and need all hands on deck
  • People could be taking advantage of their work-from-home arrangement
  • Costs are too high and this is a good way to get rid of people without having to pay severances or unemployment
  • The company is fat and lazy and extreme decisions take extreme measures

Whatever the reason, it has not been clearly articulated, putting hundreds of people up in arms.

Revised Yahoo! Letter

What if, instead, the letter read this way:

Yahoos,

During the past few months, we have introduced a number of great benefits and tools to make us more productive, efficient, and fun. With the introduction of initiatives such as FYI, Goals, and PB&J, we want everyone to participate in our culture and contribute to the positive momentum. From Sunnyvale to Santa Monica and Bangalore to Beijing — I think we can all feel the energy and buzz in our offices.

Each of you know we not only want to beat our competitors, we want to be the best place to work. As such, communication and collaboration are even more important during this time of competitiveness that is going to put us ahead of Google.

I think I speak for all of us when I say we want to beat them!

To do that, we think it’s important to be working side-by-side. In person. In the cafeteria. In the hallway. In meeting rooms. In the game room and in the company gym.

If you work from home, your manager has already talked to you about our new initiative: Let’s Get Physical, a program that brings us all together every day.

I know this is hard news to take. Some of us will have to sit in traffic for two hours every morning and every evening. Some of us will have to figure out new daycare arrangements. Some of us may even need to move. Some of us won’t care about the additional perks because they’re not worth our lives being upended.

This is not an easy thing to swallow and I know many of you are upset. If you have questions, need to vent, or just plain, old disagree, please talk to your manager, to anyone on my team, or my physical door is always open. But please, do not talk to anyone about this outside of the company until the official announcement comes out of our offices.

Thanks to all of you, we’ve already made remarkable progress as a company — and the best is yet to come.

Jackie

Maybe it isn’t the right message that they’re doing this to beat Google, but see the difference?

Empathy vs. Dictatorship

Rather than “we’re laying down the law and we don’t care if you have to meet the cable guy for four hours during the day, even though we all know how painful it is they won’t give you an actual appointment time,” the tone is empathetic and explanatory. It’s “I know this sucks for some of you, but we’re doing it for the betterment of the company.” It doesn’t even conjure up the feeling the decision is putting women back 20 years.

We all understand hard business decisions have to be made. It’s in how you deliver the news that makes the biggest difference.

Also. Before this letter goes out (either version), every, single person who works from home should have had a discussion with their managers about the decision.

If they had, there wouldn’t have been the outrage and sneaking around to make sure journalists and bloggers got a copy of the confidential letter.

HR teams, work with your communications team. Although we may not be privy to the high-level reasons decisions like this are made, we can help you word things to be less of a blow during an extremely hard transition.

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

Spin Sucks in Your Inbox

There are 174 comments

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  
Please enter an e-mail address