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.

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174 Comments on "Yahoo! Letter: Was Their Communications Team Consulted?"

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HowieG
HowieG
3 years 7 months ago
@ginidietrich all companies should read this. I have received such letters in the past. Anyone who is upset has to understand Silicon Valley. All your points about why can hold true anywhere. And when a company is struggling managers tend to micromanage because they tend to get pushed out faster than employees if things don’t turn faster. And unless you have a contract leave if you don’t like what management decides. Simple as that.   But Silicon Valley is the exception to the rule of the internet. Proximity to other techies and visionaries at work and at the coffee shop… Read more »
JoeCardillo
3 years 7 months ago
@HowieG  @ginidietrich Exactly, to Howie’s point there are plenty of reasons why a co. would want everyone in a physical location. I think what you’re pointing to Gini is that they did a bad job of thinking about a) message and b) audience. People understand sacrifice, but not if the only thing you do is tell them they’ll be sacrificing.   It’s also a totally short sighted decision and is super amateur. Even if you do think that all telecommuting should be axed (which I’d argue makes no sense, but I’m sure others will address that), why would you do it… Read more »
ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago
@JoeCardillo  @HowieG I read as much as I could about it this weekend so I could formulate a revised letter, and most of what they’re speculating is the company is fat and lazy and no one, before Mayer, has addressed it. Which means it sounds like they want people to quit so they don’t have to do layoffs. Even if that is the reason – and it’s okay if it is; we all have to make tough choices like that – there are better ways to gain consensus. When I read the line about the cable guy, I got all stabby. All… Read more »
HowieG
HowieG
3 years 7 months ago

@ginidietrich  @JoeCardillo this goes to the heart of written vs verbal communication. Tone. Inflection. Empathy. Anger. You can’t relay written as well. So often people decide themselves the tone. How many times have you had an email exchange and someone takes your written words the wrong way.
 
I think a company wide conference call would be better followed by the letter.

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@HowieG  @JoeCardillo They said their managers should have talked to everyone affected first. Which is what I would have recommended. But, based on that outrage, my guess is either those conversations didn’t happen or it wasn’t explained as cut and dry as this.

HowieG
HowieG
3 years 7 months ago

@ginidietrich  @JoeCardillo here is the issue Gini. A company that big should of hired you before initiating this. It should of been planned for in detail.
 
I bet the ‘talking to those affected’ wasn’t orchestrated properly with the memo. Someone in upper management got scared that this was going to be leaked and they might lose control of message and said….hit send now!

jenzings
jenzings
3 years 7 months ago

@ginidietrich  @JoeCardillo  @HowieG I’ll be honest, I’ve read the cable guy portion three times and still don’t get what she’s saying. To me, “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,” sounds like, “okay, we get that sometimes you/we will have to stay home, but make it really, really rare and don’t be a jerk about it”–which honestly sounds pretty reasonable. Am I reading this wrong?

JoeCardillo
3 years 7 months ago

@jenzings  @ginidietrich  @HowieG As a telecommuter it sounds kind of scold-y to me

danielnewmanUV
danielnewmanUV
3 years 7 months ago
Gini – I certainly think your letter is better than what apparently Yahoo sent out.   I will disagree (politely) with you that all companies cannot have a hybrid or telecommuting arrangement that makes sense for at least a portion of their company.   Tech tools have changed the game.  And further a company like Yahoo that prides itself on being in the forefront of tech needs to embrace the tools and the coinciding opportunity for increased productivity.   Having more people in an office NEVER equates to more productivity.  Perhaps more communing and conversing.     Productivity being down… Read more »
danielnewmanUV
danielnewmanUV
3 years 7 months ago

I meant “Overstatement” not understatement…okay, now I’m done 🙂

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago
@danielnewmanUV Oh I don’t think companies can’t have a hybrid approach, Heck, I have one! My only point was, if this is the way they think they should go, there are MUCH better ways to gain consensus and not piss off 800 employees. I’m a huge, huge advocate for working from home. I know my team is about 30% more productive that way. I don’t babysit them. I don’t care if they leave their desk in the middle of the day. All I care about is whether or not they exceed their goals. If they don’t, the answer isn’t getting people… Read more »
danielnewmanUV
danielnewmanUV
3 years 7 months ago

@ginidietrich I think we are on the same page.  Her delivery made it unpalatable for me…I wonder if I would be more empathetic if she should a bit more humility.
I still think she is damaging the culture….

SteelToad
SteelToad
3 years 7 months ago
@danielnewmanUV I’d respectfully disagree with “Having more people in an office NEVER equates to more productivity.  Perhaps more communing and conversing”.     There are times when causal conversations occur which can change the course of unrelated work. If you’re working remotely, you’re communicating about information related to your work, and in trying to keep that efficient you can miss out on tid-bits that might serve as inspiration. For example, I was working on some code to do some reporting within a bank. By chance, in the break room i happened to hear an exec. and one of the IT guys… Read more »
JoeCardillo
3 years 7 months ago

@SteelToad  @danielnewmanUV Agreed, but telecommuting can allow for this too. Group IM chats, G-Hangouts, Skyping, etc…,  it’s funny how often we pay lip service to the ability to connect and then just don’t use the tools we have. Having said that telecommuting is not for everyone, just as working 40, 60, 80, 100 hours in an office isn’t for everyone.

HowieG
HowieG
3 years 7 months ago
@JoeCardillo  @SteelToad  @danielnewmanUV I mentioned the tools issue. Let me put it this way. How much more likely will you bring something up with a colleague in person than if you are remote. This is cultural. Should I call? What if I interrupt? What if they are way senior to me? What if the company says  ‘open door’ in name but not practice. But now that person is making coffee next to me in the break room and says hi. and they know my name. Aren’t I much more likely to say ‘Hey do you have a minute later to chat?’ than… Read more »
SteelToad
SteelToad
3 years 7 months ago
@JoeCardillo  @danielnewmanUV The problem with IM and G-Hangouts and the rest. (as wonderfully helpful as they are) is that the people involved are involved to discuss issues that they are working on. You miss out on having completely unrelated thrust upon you.   Have a remote discussion among dog owners on how to protect their puppies in the park because lions, tigers, and bears have been spotted, and you’ll come up with a variety of ways to defend against lions, tigers, and bears … but not the eagle that ultimately snatches fido.   Have that same meeting in the park when the… Read more »
Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes
3 years 7 months ago

@HowieG  @JoeCardillo  @SteelToad  @danielnewmanUV 
I spent almost 7 years working from home with my family around. It gets better when the kids are old enough to go to school. My productivity was very high and I never had trouble feeling like I was a part of things, but that could be corporate culture.

danielnewmanUV
danielnewmanUV
3 years 7 months ago

@Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes  @HowieG  @JoeCardillo  @SteelToad EXACTLY – the company is responsible for the culture and the assimilation of employees in various locations.  It can be that bad for people in a remote office…not just at home.
Culture Culture Culture….

HowieG
HowieG
3 years 7 months ago

@Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes  @JoeCardillo  @SteelToad  @danielnewmanUV did you only have a 2 room house Joshua? With them both in a small space with you?

jenzings
jenzings
3 years 7 months ago

@HowieG  @JoeCardillo  @SteelToad  @danielnewmanUV Honestly, I think a blend probably works best for many (myself included). Which is why I find the insistence that people who only WFH a day or two a week will also be losing that ‘perk’ odd–which is why I really feel like this is the corporate version of “self-deportation.” Call it the employee-driven layoff model, perhaps.

juliepippert
juliepippert
3 years 7 months ago

@HowieG  @JoeCardillo  @SteelToad  @danielnewmanUV My solution to challenges at my home office is to use the library. They have private rooms you can pre-book and free wifi. Coffee shops can be good but noisy. I can sit totally focused and hammer out a lot of work in those library offices. I can also do skype calls etc. OT but just wanted to mention.

danielnewmanUV
danielnewmanUV
3 years 7 months ago

@SteelToad Well the all or nothing approach isn’t the answer.
As I said above, I think she is causing so much collateral damage to morale that it is hard to think that you will get productivity from this subset of employees.
Now you just have a bunch of scorned people who were brought in for one thing and on a dime asked to do something else.
In my experience that is more damaging than the bad policy.

HowieG
HowieG
3 years 7 months ago

@danielnewmanUV  @SteelToad I just think they had no clue this would happen.

SteelToad
SteelToad
3 years 7 months ago

I think the Yahoo letter may seem at first cold and unfeeling, but in the letter they say “If this impacts you, your management has already been in touch with next steps” which leads me to believe that they probably already discussed the issue with the affected employees, and that this letter was to bring the unaffected employees up-to-speed on what was happening.

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@SteelToad I would agree…except there was so much outrage, my guess is those conversations didn’t happen.

Adam | Customer Experience
3 years 7 months ago
On whether it is a good decision, I think it’s hard to know that unless you work there. I read a few articles on this one too and it seems like something has to be done.    On the communication part, I think you nailed it, particularly with the different tone. I would only add that the signature at the bottom should have been Mrs. Mayers’ — not HR’s. I assume she was trying not to elevate it by pushing it out of HR, but since there was almost no chance of this thing not blowing up, I think it… Read more »
ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@Adam | Customer Experience I went back and forth on that one. In an organization, you have to elevate your executive team and not have everything come out of your office. I think it’s okay to have from the EVP of HR, but she should have discussed with her PR team first.

teamccloud
3 years 7 months ago

There are some HR people who know how to use the PR team others — seemingly more — who think PR is only for external communications.

ElissaFreeman
ElissaFreeman
3 years 7 months ago

Love your voice of reason. Marissa is being vilified because….maybe…she thinks like a man. Do you think if she was a male and she said “no more telecommuting’ people would be in such an uproar? She’s making the tough business decisions. But, I do agree she should have had a hallway conversation with her comms folks first…

Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes
3 years 7 months ago

@ElissaFreeman I don’t know if I see her thinking like a man here. Some of this comes across as trying to prove she is “tough” enough to deserve the job. Feels “young” to me, but I could be completely off base.

jenzings
jenzings
3 years 7 months ago

@ElissaFreeman I think people would be in an uproar regardless. It’s changing the terms under which some were hired. The question is whether the benefit was significant enough to retain high performers, or if it was a benefit that was being abused. Either way, change will always cause some anxiety.

RebeccaTodd
3 years 7 months ago

@jenzings  @ElissaFreeman Exactly you’ve put it well. I worked for a company that decided to change the terms under which we were all hired, and it didn’t go so well.

KatherineBull
KatherineBull
3 years 7 months ago
@ElissaFreeman  I respectfully disagree that this is a man vs. woman thing. A lot of people are trying to make it that but to me that isn’t even relevant. What I see to be the problem is the suddenness of it as well as the potential to lose good talent in lieu of a sweeping policy. Sure, there are remote workers who are poor workers but putting them in an office isn’t going to make them better workers. And, there are loads of non-performing workers who are on-site. It’s like saying “If you have a red shirt on today, go… Read more »
lizreusswig
3 years 7 months ago
@ElissaFreeman I do think if this came from a man there would still be an uproar, even complaints about gender bias, just not the same complaints.  I’m not sure she’s being vilified because she’s “thinking like a man,” but her hiding behind HR makes it seem more like she’s behaving like a woman behaving like she thinks a man would behave OR…maybe it’s really not a gender thing at all and she just does not believe in remote working arrangements.  All-in-all I think this will bode poorly for Yahoo and Mayers – whose name should have been on the bottom of… Read more »
belllindsay
belllindsay
3 years 7 months ago
Firstly, having spent 20 years with a massive, nationwide organization, with outposts and regional stations from coast to coast to coast as well as many news bureaus overseas, I can – with experience – put MONEY on the fact that those “chats with your managers” didn’t happen. Or at least they ALL didn’t happen. It’s one thing to direct your managers to have these convos with their staff. It’s another to ensure that they have before sending out a letter such as this.   Secondly, another thing that irks me about this is the whole “messing with people’s lives” thing. If you… Read more »
ElissaFreeman
ElissaFreeman
3 years 7 months ago

@belllindsay Great points – but this is a business decision, pure and simple. Yahoo is a bloated mess. You need to make tough decisions to keep a company alive. Marissa Mayer is telling us loud and clear that she is not going to be a feminist role model. Instead, she’s going to be a CEO role model – one that can make tough decisions. This too will blow over.

belllindsay
belllindsay
3 years 7 months ago
@ElissaFreeman I agree it was a business decision and most likely (based on @hessiej ‘s comment above) one that needed to be made. The CBC was a bloated, over-spent, mismanaged mess for decades, and my whole 20 year career there was spent dealing with the decimation that the cutbacks (starting in 1990) caused and how they affected workload and productivity. I never had the opportunity to WFH when my son was little (and now he doesn’t need me anymore! LOL) But I don’t think the WFH discussion is a woman’s issue. I bet the percentage tilts higher to male Yahoo employees working from… Read more »
juliepippert
juliepippert
3 years 7 months ago

@belllindsay It’s not just you. Me too. 🙂

lizreusswig
3 years 7 months ago

@belllindsay The irony will be if all the WFH folks bolt and they turn out to the be the ones who were more productive than the in-office folks! 😉

belllindsay
belllindsay
3 years 7 months ago

@lizreusswig Wouldn’t that be hilarious!? 🙂

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@belllindsay It sounds like the managers were supposed to have those chats. Whether or not they happened (or happened well) is another thing. But I will also put money on the fact that, if they had happened in a consensus- and morale-building way, no one would have leaked this letter.

mock_ing_bird
mock_ing_bird
3 years 7 months ago
Seriously, the ‘letter’ is the classic HR letter that could have come from the HR department of any company large enough to have an HR department. Typically tunnel-visioned. I don’t know if people working in HR have had common sense surgically removed, or if the air is somehow thinner in the HR cubby-hole, but come on… If you tell people that they have to comply with some new directive without giving them an incentive or valid reason to do so, you just appear like an out-of-touch booby treating the staff like slaves to do your bidding. If the person writing… Read more »
ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@mock_ing_bird I could not love this comment more. LOVE!

lzone
lzone
3 years 7 months ago

@ginidietrich knowing it was likely going to go public, I can see why they didn’t mention competitors. Those msgs are important in F2F tho.

jeffespo
3 years 7 months ago

Wait… since when is PB&J an awesome benefit?

SteelToad
SteelToad
3 years 7 months ago

@jeffespo Since age 4 🙂

jeffespo
3 years 7 months ago

@SteelToad But isn’t it more of a God-given right than say a benefit? So with that rationale, Yahoo! would be playing God eh?

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@jeffespo I can’t decide if they mean actual PB&J or it’s the name of some new benefit.

stefsealy
stefsealy
3 years 7 months ago

.@ginidietrich Nailed it >> The now infamous Yahoo! letter to employees … was their communications team consulted? http://t.co/w8WPsnWbPX

Joanne Brattain
Joanne Brattain
3 years 7 months ago

Wow! Pretty interesting for sure!

jenzings
jenzings
3 years 7 months ago
I think bullet point #3 has a lot to do with it. This is an easy way to sort out who wants to be there for the hard stuff, and get rid of those who don’t at a low cost. I read elsewhere that this isn’t an immediate thing, people do have some time to sort out how they are going to approach this. The ones I feel the most sorry for are those who will face long commutes: with gas prices, this is an effective pay cut for them.   Could it have been communicated better? Maybe. But then… Read more »
ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@jenzings I have no problem with company-wide mandates. You have to do what you have to do. I’m looking at this solely from a communications perspective. If you want to gain consensus and build morale, insinuating being at work is more important than being home for the cable guy is not the way to do it.

hessiej
3 years 7 months ago
When I worked there it was clear that many were taking advantage of the WFH perk. Productivity is debatable when some departments were mandated to be in everyday while others were more lax. There was no enforcement of the policy. Moreso, there was no real accountability measured between the WFH-er vs someone who came to the office everyday.  I agree this sucks and it will put a lot of people off but it’s been long coming. I don’t know whether Yahoo! should have gone to extremes and mandate everyone to come to work but I do know that there were… Read more »
ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@hessiej Yeah, I’ve had to make super hard business decisions that are extremely unpopular. I don’t know why this decision was made – and I don’t really care. All I care about it HOW it’s communicated. The way they did (at least from solely the letter) will not gain consensus or improve morale.

RebeccaTodd
3 years 7 months ago

I’ve worked from home, I’ve worked in an office- there are certainly costs and benefits to each. And I agree with @HowieG – I just do not feel the same sort of serendipitous conversation happens when working remotely, but I also do not believe that bums in seats = time on task. It certainly could have been disseminated better.

polleydan
3 years 7 months ago

@RebeccaTodd  @HowieG I agree. I work from home occasionally — the perks of having an understanding boss — and I can attest that communication is not as good when I work at home and interactions are lacking as well. And I, for one, know I am not as on task at home as when I am in the office. It’s why I perfer to work in the office.But I agree with the base point that this could have been disseminated better.

belllindsay
belllindsay
3 years 7 months ago

@polleydan  @RebeccaTodd  @HowieG Interesting Dan – I’m a thousand times more productive working from home (and I sat in a veal pen for 20 years). I love how different we all are as individuals – I just wish more companies would recognize this individuality and allow people to adjust their work lives accordingly. (yes, it’s starting to shift, but slowwwwly)

polleydan
3 years 7 months ago

@belllindsay  I think part of the reason I work better in the office is my monitor is much larger, and I do some design work. So when I work from home, I find myself having to manage my monitor a lot more.But part of it is also I find myself more distracted at home, especially when my dogs are making a ruckus. 🙂

SteelToad
SteelToad
3 years 7 months ago

@polleydan  @belllindsay Only 1 monitor ??

belllindsay
belllindsay
3 years 7 months ago

@SteelToad  @polleydan Riiiight…….the ol’ monitor excuse. 😉

RebeccaTodd
3 years 7 months ago

@belllindsay  @polleydan  @HowieG @SteelToad I am actually much more productive from home. I do my best work when I am allowed to intensely focus on a task, then switch when I need variety. My kinaesthetic learning style means I also have to move and wiggle and roam while I think, something that proves distracting in an office. I also find that when I am working from home, I end up working more hours per day, as I do not curb the impulse to work when out of the office. When I have a desk to go to, I often leave things until work time. It varies so much from individual to individual.

belllindsay
belllindsay
3 years 7 months ago

@RebeccaTodd  @polleydan  @HowieG  @SteelToad Me too Rebecca. I’m on the computer at 6:00 am (my choice – I’m an early riser) and get so much done during the time I would normally be getting prepped and subway’ing it downtown. Also, I tend to work here and there on the weekend, because to be honest – it doesn’t *feel* like work to me – the WFH benefit makes me love my work so much I’m constantly dipping in and out of it. And cotrary to what @Danny Brown might think, I’m NOT brown nosing here (LOL) it’s the truth!

hessiej
3 years 7 months ago

@belllindsay  @RebeccaTodd  @polleydan  @HowieG  @SteelToad  @Danny Brown Lindsay always “asked” to work from home when she had an office to go to! I don’t deny the productivity when you’re at home but you have to admit that with it comes the “freedom” to do other things like responding to Spinsuck blogs.

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@polleydan  @RebeccaTodd  @HowieG As you know, we’re completely virtual. About once a week, I wish I had my team in the same office because it would be easier to brainstorm or get through some challenges. In those cases, *I* have to work harder to gain collaboration and consensus. And sometimes, especially if I’m overly tired, it kind of sucks.

thebaldbiker
thebaldbiker
3 years 7 months ago

@belllindsay @ginidietrich @SpinSucks Always good stuff. Thanks for the share.

belllindsay
belllindsay
3 years 7 months ago

@thebaldbiker Thanks Nelson! 🙂 @ginidietrich @SpinSucks

bryanwillmert
3 years 7 months ago

With something this bolt and striking to the organization it sounds like a solid C level move knowing the steps taken. When you are trying to shift the culture of an organization some pieces have to change for a bit. This is a personal opinion and not one endorsed by Gini lol

RebeccaTodd
3 years 7 months ago

@bryanwillmert Interesting take. I worked for a company that passed a similar ruling, and they did not seem prepared for the backlash. I had not considered it may be a strategic move.

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@bryanwillmert I’m totally cool with it being a strategic decision. We have NO idea why they’re doing it. But it could have been communicated so much better. In fact, if they had communicated it differently, it’s likely we wouldn’t be talking about it because we wouldn’t know about it.

Yancy Scot Strickland
Yancy Scot Strickland
3 years 7 months ago

Oops.

allenmireles
3 years 7 months ago

I find the comments on this post an interesting read. As many people responding to the issue fo WFH v office as to the tone of the document and the fact that HR and PR aren’t (in this instance) working together. Clearly they should be, as clearly they have not been. By design? Perhaps the intent was to bludgeon with the message to cause people to leave. Fascinating.

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@allenmireles Someone in a FB group said, having come from a tech company, the comms team probably was consulted, but they weren’t allowed to change the messaging.

jeanniecw
3 years 7 months ago
Empathy is the missing ingredient in so many business communications. Empathy, humor and humanity. Those things matter.   I disagree with the dictate, but I appreciate seeing the difference in how to communicate it.   I wonder how prepared they are for the mass exodus and bad feelings former employees will carry with them. I can hear the conversations in the hallways now: “Hey Jane, can you meet in 10 minutes to discuss that project?” “Hey Joe, I’m already booked into 10 meetings today and I just got here at 9:15 thanks to California traffic!” Chuckle chuckle. “You interviewing yet?” “Of course!… Read more »
ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@jeanniecw I wonder if they care? Of course, everyone is speculating, but I read more than one article that said they want people to quit so they don’t have to do layoffs.

DebraCaplick
3 years 7 months ago

“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.”
 
No, but we should be. If we were, there’d be fewer stories like this. But non-PR managers never seem to learn the value of communications.

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@DebraCaplick We should be, but we aren’t always. I have a friend who does employee comms at a Fortune 10 company. She’s been there for 10 years. Just six months ago they started inviting her into leadership meetings so she could help them craft the right messaging. After nine and a half years.

DallasK
DallasK
3 years 7 months ago

I’m not sure if “Jackie” would have been the appropriate person to send that out.  It would be better coming from Marisa herself.  People don’t tend to rally behind the HR head….

juliepippert
juliepippert
3 years 7 months ago

@DallasK Dollars to donuts that decision was deliberate, thought through and done to insulate Marisa. Sets up a different fall guy — or so the thinking often goes.

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@DallasK I’m on the fence about it…I can’t decide.

Marylou4iyx9gq
Marylou4iyx9gq
3 years 7 months ago
juliepippert
juliepippert
3 years 7 months ago
1. The better letter. I think your letter was a lot better on many levels but I think it presumes that the company has a healthy morale and people are feeling loyal. Having worked in dysfunctional companies that asked for a lot of sacrifice and loyalty of employees’ with little return on that investment, I can say a lot of employees rarely are able to muster up the rah rah. They are just trying to make it until they can shake it. I don’t know if this is Yahoo! but from whispers here and there I think it might be possible.   2. Feminism, sexism, whateverism.… Read more »
belllindsay
belllindsay
3 years 7 months ago

@juliepippert Agree with you 100% here Julie.

juliepippert
juliepippert
3 years 7 months ago
@belllindsay You know what I think is better leadership? A 3 month window: here are our new performance standards and expectations, here’s why (rah rah rally, let’s succeed), here are the ways we’re setting you up to succeed, and here’s the outcome for not meeting or exceeding. Along the way, constant way points of review, how is it going. It sets a high bar for management and workers alike, but sets a supportive, enable to succeed culture. if people feel like they’re on a team, they’ll work their hearts out (a lot of people will, not all). If they feel like… Read more »
belllindsay
belllindsay
3 years 7 months ago

@juliepippert Exactly. That feeling of being trusted and part of a team is invaluable. You show me trust and respect and I will *kill* myself working for you. 😉

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@juliepippert I will admit, when I first the read the story in your stream, my reaction was about feminism and setting companies back. But I forced myself to read more and do some digging. I don’t agree with the decision, which is why I looked at it purely from a communications perspective. Sure, it presumes the morale is high. It sounds like it’s not. But there is only way to get there…and it’s not to dictate you can’t stay home for the cable guy.

winnimartha
winnimartha
3 years 7 months ago

@Toronto_PR_Guy It’s so glib. Staying at home for the cable guy? That’s what they think their employees are worried about?

ladylaff
ladylaff
3 years 7 months ago

All I can say is Yahoo must REALLY want people to quit. Screaming. In droves.

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@ladylaff Perhaps that’s their end goal.

Nourhy Chiriboga
Nourhy Chiriboga
3 years 7 months ago

like the second letter better. yahoo should have hired them, lol

LouHoffman
LouHoffman
3 years 7 months ago

And you’re a copywriter too.
 
Tell me you’re lousy at badminton.

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@LouHoffman I AM lousy at badminton. But come on! Your first draft of a letter like this would have been better than mine. You’re much better at that than me.

lauraclick
3 years 7 months ago

Internal communications is often sorely overlooked and under-appreciated until things like this happen. It’s a shame. Tweaking the messaging as you did could have gone a long way. People want to be talked to like human beings. But why on earth do cooperations seem to forget that – even when they’re talking to their own people?!

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@lauraclick It’s a hard lesson I learned myself in growing my business and I am a communications professional. As it turns out, when you treat people like human beings and explain the why instead of just laying down the law, they tend to not always like the decision, but respect it.

peterarmaly
peterarmaly
3 years 7 months ago

I see a HBR case study in the making.

RebeccaTodd
3 years 7 months ago

@peterarmaly …wanna write it?

peterarmaly
peterarmaly
3 years 7 months ago

@RebeccaTodd  🙂 I would love to and maybe I should if I can somehow manage to find the time to fit it in with all the other balls I’m juggling as I work from home.

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@peterarmaly  @RebeccaTodd LOL!!

jdrobertson
3 years 7 months ago
I am a political gadfly passionately devoted to the care and feeding of the Albuquerque Public School System. (90,000 students, 15,000 employees, 1.3 Billiion dollar budget). In the midst of all this there is an organization charitably called Human Resources aka HR, that is empowered to: Hire and set salaries for positions about which they have no knowledge whatsoever, discipline and terminate employees  overiding supervisions’ wishes, make policy for working conditions &c. Their position among the hierarchy appears sacrosanct – no one seems to know where their authority comes from. So it is with YAHOO. Ms. Jacqueline Reses, HR at YAHOO, I would… Read more »
ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@jdrobertson I love this comment.

adammbsmith
adammbsmith
3 years 7 months ago

Or does this simply mean that they had productivity issues with people working remotely?Where I work many women have suggested having a creche downstairs because our company is so big and employs so many women. It would be a much more viable solution in many instances than working remotely – for both men and women with children.

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@adammbsmith I’m not sure of the reasons – they’re being very private about it. Where I take issue is in the words chosen for the letter. If someone insinuated it was more important to be at work than meet the cable guy once in a blue moon, I’d have a fit.

stevenmcoyle
3 years 7 months ago
I may be alone on this, but I didn’t find the original letter offensive at all. Actually I heard so many negative comments about it prior to reading, I expected the letter to be down right rude. With that being said, I do think Gini’s version is 10 times better.   However I really don’t understand the overall backlash from the media. CNN this morning said “works have to work in the office or quit.” Then they went on to say how it was setting women back and called Marissa Mayer a reversed-feminist. Again, maybe there’s something I’m missing but I don’t see how… Read more »
juliepippert
juliepippert
3 years 7 months ago

@stevenmcoyle It needn’t be a woman thing and I say that as a woman who was really hoping for more progressive leadership from younger, female and other out of the box type executives. It does need to be a structural issue of workplaces issue. because BOY do we have one and it affects men and women alike. Some of the top talent opts out of the traditional workforce because it can’t support them

stevenmcoyle
3 years 7 months ago

@juliepippert I’m a huge advocate for working-from-home. I think virtual companies have the ability to have a talented team without the confident of one area.  However, work is a privilege in my eyes and with that privilege comes certain sacrifices. I’m sure there are just as many top talented individuals who loves the traditional workforce as those who don’t. You win some and you lose some. I think Marissa is creating a company culture and if her vision is a 9 to 5 type atmosphere, then she will/needs to attract that type of top-talent.   Just because she’s wants her workers in the office doesn’t mean the ultimate goal is progressive.

jenzings
jenzings
3 years 7 months ago
@stevenmcoyle I think the people who have the most “right” to be upset are the ones hired and/or recruited with the understanding that a flexible work arrangement was part of the deal. In those situations, you make decisions (sometimes very big ones, like where to buy your house) based on that understanding. The price of gas in CA is more than $5/gallon. If you purchased a reasonably priced house in California, it’s likely out in the boonies. So, a requirement that you must be in the office leaves you with some unattractive choices: a long commute and an unexpected hit… Read more »
stevenmcoyle
3 years 7 months ago

@jenzings I agree. I can understand how this could be an inconvenience and those individuals have every right to be upset. With that being said,  I don’t think it’s fair for people who don’t work at Yahoo! to be so up in arms about this.

jenzings
jenzings
3 years 7 months ago

@stevenmcoyle If I had to guess, the reason others are reacting is because they fear it could be a trend. For anyone who has fought hard for the ability to work from home, and proved that it can work, the *last* thing they want is a high-profile CEO in a notoriously flexible industry to rescind that ability. In other words, they are afraid this attitude (work from home employees are less productive) will spread.

jelenawoehr
3 years 7 months ago

@stevenmcoyle I work for the company in question, and I agree that the original letter was fine — perhaps it could have been tweaked more, but we can’t all be Gini, can we? I wasn’t offended — a little amused, yes, but if we can’t laugh at corporate emails conveying what will be for some people bad news, what can we laugh at?

stevenmcoyle
3 years 7 months ago

@jelenawoehr I agree. I also plan to be Gini one day. Does that sound creepy? Let me rephrase, I plan to be as awesome as Gini one day. lol

jelenawoehr
3 years 7 months ago

@stevenmcoyle Me too! Hey, you’re ambitious, smart, opinionated, I like your website, and you’re adorable, much like Gini. I think you can do it. Claps.

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@stevenmcoyle You didn’t find this sentence insulting: 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. 
 
I read that and thought, “Wow. Talk about insinuating there is no other priority than work.”

PattiRoseKnight1
PattiRoseKnight1
3 years 7 months ago

As my grandma always said “you get more with sugar than you do with vinegar”.  Same message but what a difference.

ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@PattiRoseKnight1 That’s two things Gramma Shell has said to me in three days.

belllindsay
belllindsay
3 years 7 months ago

@PattiRoseKnight1 @ginidietrich  My Nanny used to say if you shake it more than three times you’re playing with it. OT, but still…..  😉

PattiRoseKnight1
PattiRoseKnight1
3 years 7 months ago

@belllindsay  @ginidietrich The nuns said that to me.

emmystorms
emmystorms
3 years 7 months ago

@SpinSucks on why Yahoo! should have consulted their communications team: http://t.co/yn9WGlKM55 via @colleenrkennedy #PR #YahooLetter

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@josgovaart You just made me spit water at my screen. LOL!

StaceyHood
StaceyHood
3 years 7 months ago

@jenniferwindrum JENN!!! Hiya!

jenniferwindrum
jenniferwindrum
3 years 7 months ago

@StaceyHood Hey Hoodie. Hellllooooo right back. How the heck are ya? I’m in a yarn crisis. Bet you didn’t think I’d say that. Ha. And you?

decillis
decillis
3 years 7 months ago

@ginidietrich I’m so glad you took this approach on it. I’m annoyed by the others…

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@decillis You know me…I always look at stuff from a PR perspective. We have NO idea why they decided to do it.

decillis
decillis
3 years 7 months ago

@ginidietrich EXACTLY! They may be trying to accomplish something they did not articulate in that letter. #ginicrush

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@decillis LOL at the hashtag! Ha! I don’t think giving up remote offices is great, but there are reasons we aren’t privy to…

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@decillis BTW…I’m needing a Betsy ice cream date

decillis
decillis
3 years 7 months ago

@ginidietrich I totally mentioned how I tried to take you out to ice cream to someone a couple of days ago! Get your butt back here!!

katecrowley
katecrowley
3 years 7 months ago

@charshaff from the confidentiality part, I wonder id they didnt expect it to “get out”?

charshaff
charshaff
3 years 7 months ago

@katecrowley Yah, no kidding!

katecrowley
katecrowley
3 years 7 months ago

@charshaff NPR has it on 5:30p news!

writingprincess
writingprincess
3 years 7 months ago
Quite frankly I think the letter is moot. Either version doesn’t matter because it’s the least of their problems. I like the other version because it attempts to rally the troops, but you can’t rally troops who don’t feel like troops. I doubt the wording would have made that much of a difference. You could have passed out golden tickets with that letter and I still think there would have been backlash anger.  We’re talking culture here and no matter how you pretty it up a pig in a dress is still a pig in a dress. The very fact that… Read more »
ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago
@writingprincess You raise a REALLY good point about Zappos. I remember reading an interview where Hseih said, at his other company, he hated going to work so it was his goal to create a new culture he enjoyed. It’s pretty apparent their culture is far superior. That said, we went completely virtual in November 2011. Last September, I raised the discussion about going back to an office. I got a big, resounding no. I’d like to think that’s not because they don’t want to be around one another or don’t like each other, rather because they enjoy the benefits of being… Read more »
writingprincess
writingprincess
3 years 7 months ago
@ginidietrich G-Queen you’re so right! It’s all about CULTURE. At Zappos the culture is about being at the workplace, being together to get the job done. At your place it’s about working as a team from wherever you are. At my firm my writers are scattered around the globe. Our culture, largely infused with my freelancing, globe-trotting spirit, is I don’t care where, I only mildly care how, but get ‘er done. So since I employ writers I want them to be comfortable to produce greatness. I care not where they do it. (Writers are a strange bunch…) Same for Tony,… Read more »
writingprincess
writingprincess
3 years 7 months ago
@ginidietrich Also on “physical part,” whenever a Zappos employee logs on to his/her computer a picture of someone else in the companies pops up…the employee is asked if h/she knows the other employee and, if not, a dialogue is started. This is an example of creating collaboration without regard to the physical. It’s a brilliant strategy that Z’s is employing to support creating real employee relationships that lead to organic innovation rather than false paradigms that lead to employee resentment. I wrote about it in a book I co-authored called “It Takes Work to be Happy,” about creating positivity in the workplace. http://www.linkedin.com/company/write-way-writing/it-takes-work-to-be-happy-1150218/product So… Read more »
Linda Eleanor Rigby Robbins
Linda Eleanor Rigby Robbins
3 years 7 months ago

Second letter is what should have been sent to employees. Pretty sad to come off as a dictator.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@21law Ha!

21law
21law
3 years 7 months ago

@ginidietrich FYI – Ex-Yahoos Confess: Marissa Mayer Is Right To Ban Working From Home http://t.co/Mpl4tXOtlD

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@21law I heard a few friends who work there say most people who work from home are seen as non-productives

21law
21law
3 years 7 months ago

@ginidietrich lots-o-disruptn needed at Yahoo +Very surprised that @nilofer+various others spoke quickly sayin Mayer’s memo was oppo of need

Symfonic
Symfonic
3 years 7 months ago

“@JamieCrager: Yahoo! Letter: Was Their Communications Team Consulted? http://t.co/GX0jjiwFg4 via @ginidietrich”

GOTTDAMNNWRiTE
GOTTDAMNNWRiTE
3 years 7 months ago
rdopping
rdopping
3 years 7 months ago
I strongly believe that the decision was tough but if it was necessary then the best way is to be succinct and honest. I don’t see anything wrong with the actual memo other than it should have been precluded by a town hall, video few or whatever Yahoo needed to do to communicate their position. If this was a major shift in work style then the communication plan really should include a clear message from the CEO. I am not sure too much empathy in a written message is a good idea but being open to employees who are really… Read more »
ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@rdopping I 100% agree there seems to be a strong communications strategy messaging. I think being empathetic to people’s needs vs. insinuating nothing is more important than going to work goes a lot further.

MaKBirch
MaKBirch
3 years 7 months ago

Explanations can be nice. RT @ShellyKramer: Yahoo! Letter: Was Their Communications Team Consulted? http://t.co/6xxU2ITTCk via @ginidietrich

CrisisSocMedia
CrisisSocMedia
3 years 7 months ago

Yahoo! Letter: Was Their Comms Team Consulted? http://t.co/E3tC2aCrm8 by @ginidietrich RT @ShellyKramer #crisispr

cmjohns
cmjohns
3 years 7 months ago

Gini – What do you think from a communications standpoint should Yahoo!’s next step be? Should they do anything at all or try and explain their decision in an effort to calm those up in arms over this?

ginidietrich
3 years 6 months ago

@cmjohns I’ve been thinking about this since you asked the question. Since I wrote this post, I’ve been privy to some of the things that are driving this decision. I’ve also learned what Marissa and her team have done to explain (and explain again) internally what’s behind the decision. It sounds like, instead of letting people like Jackie deliver this news, Marissa needs to be that person…and she needs a communications professional on her executive team who thinks like she does and will allow her to be herself. People inside really respect her and WANT to hear from her.

TonyBennett
3 years 7 months ago

Funny, when I read your version, I thought “wow, this is great, it’s dripping with empathy!” then the next headline had it. Maybe we all of big biz should start retaining you… Not sure why they haven’t already!

ginidietrich
3 years 6 months ago

@TonyBennett Ha! We don’t do that kind of work. But thank you.

John Novaria
John Novaria
3 years 7 months ago

That’s a thoughtful rewrite of a very troublesome memo. Kudos, Gini. Seems any organization that struggles with a teleworking policy has a bigger issue – namely, how to successfully engage workers who are spread all over the globe. If every employee – regardless of working location or arrangement – * believes * in the importance of their contribution to the strategy, then there should be no worries about distractions or reduced productivity in the basement office.

ginidietrich
3 years 6 months ago

@John Novaria I’ve been thinking a lot about the teleworking piece of it. We have people scattered across North America. I think it works for us for one reason: We’re all teleworking. When some of us were in the office and some were not, there was a lot of animosity of those who were not. No matter what I did – brought them in once a month, made sure teams had both on them – it was a big problem. I think it’d be really, really challenging for a company as big as Yahoo.

John Novaria
John Novaria
3 years 6 months ago

@ginidietrich  @John Novaria Yeah, Gini, I hear you, yet when I was at GE I don’t recall ever hearing a disparaging word about a teleworker, their work ethic or productivity. The way the company saw it: if the best talent is in a city where you don’t have an office, you don’t have to make them relocate and you have a better chance of landing that talent if you let them stay put. That said, managers set high expectations and would only allow teleworking if the person was a high performer.

ginidietrich
3 years 6 months ago

@John Novaria You know…we just debated this on Inside PR. I DO think there are ways you can do it, just like you’ve described how it worked at GE…and how @writingprincess describes it works at Zappos. I’m a big fan of teleworking. I just wonder if all companies will be able to institute it?

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@TMNinja Ha!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
3 years 7 months ago

@inspiredcat Thanks Caitlin!

inspiredcat
inspiredcat
3 years 7 months ago

@ginidietrich you’re quite welcome, Gini!

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